By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger
March 19 will mark the beginning of Year “Amoris Laetitia Family.” This date marks the fifth anniversary of the signing of Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), a nine-chapter papal document reflecting on challenges to marriage and family life. March 19 also marks the Solemnity of St. Joseph, a patron saint of families, fathers and expectant mothers.
Pope Francis made the announcement Dec. 27, following his proclamation of a year dedicated to St. Joseph. “I invite everyone to take part in the initiatives that will be promoted during the Year and that will be coordinated by the Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life. Let us entrust this journey, with families all over the world, to the Holy Family of Nazareth, in particular to St. Joseph, the devoted spouse and father.”
The Vatican identifies three main objectives for the Year “Amoris Laetitia Family:”
• Spread the message of Amoris Laetitia more widely.
• Emphasize the “precious value of the sacrament of marriage.”
• Broaden the vision and action of pastoral care for the family so that it can become more transversal and include all family members, including married couples, children and young people, the elderly, and people in difficult family situations.
During the Year “Amoris Laetitia Family,” The Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life will share resources on family spirituality, formation and pastoral activity for marriage preparation, effective education for young people, and on the holiness of married couples and families who live out the grace of the sacrament in their daily life. International academic symposia also will examine the contents and implications of the papal document (apostolic exhortation) in relation to topical issues that affect families around the world. For resources, go to www.amorislaetitia.va.
Diocese celebrates St. Joseph and the family
Marianne Agnoli, diocesan marriage and family life coordinator, said the diocese looks forward to helping Catholics to celebrate the “overlapping” Year of St. Joseph and the Year “Amoris Laetitia Family” and discovering ways to embrace these two celebrations.
The diocese created a webpage for the Year of St. Joseph (https://www.davenportdiocese.org/year-of-saint-joseph) where parishes, families and individuals can access links to resources to help them draw closer to St. Joseph. Many of the resources are also available in Spanish. Creation of a webpage for the Year “Amoris Laetitia Family” is underway. Agnoli encourages Catholics to access the Vatican’s resources in the meantime.
In addition, The Catholic Messenger will run monthly features, like this one, connecting an attribute of St. Joseph to a featured church or a national or worldwide awareness effort.
The Messenger also plans to feature short profiles on each of the 10 diocesan churches dedicated to St. Joseph. Parishes may also create a video highlighting their community’s story.
Local Fathers of St. Joseph celebrate special year
For several years, men in the Iowa City area have been celebrating St. Joseph in a special way.
This year, with the overlapping celebrations of St. Joseph and Amoris Laetitita, will be will be no exception.
The Fathers of St. Joseph, modeled after the original Rock Island, Illinois, group, formed in 2015. They meet twice monthly to pray the Little Office of St. Joseph, participate in talks and discussions and enjoy fellowship with other Catholic men.
“The Fathers of St. Joseph format is very encouraging for husbands, fathers and mentors. We are encouraged to take St. Joseph as our role model in our spiritual, work and family life,” said Dan Teets, director of Adult Spiritual Formation at St. Mary of the Visitation Parish in Iowa City. He also serves as director of RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) at the Newman Catholic Student Center in Iowa City. Members may participate in person (with social distancing) or online because of the pandemic.
Fellow parishioner and group member Bill Doucette said St. Joseph “joined his faith with Mary’s in trusting God and being a parent of Jesus. Together they created a home in which Jesus grew from a baby to an adult ready to live out his mission of salvation. St. Joseph is an example for us to trust God in difficult times, choosing to follow his way rather than the ways promoted in this world. Also, we can join Mary and Jesus in trusting St. Joseph to be our spiritual father and intercessor.”
Deacon Joe Welter of St. Mary Parish said, “Through Fathers of St. Joseph, God speaks directly to me and challenges me to be a better husband and father. God challenges me through the carefully crafted and beautiful course materials and topics. God speaks through sharing with the group, in prayer, and the everyday struggles of being a husband and father.”
For David Drake, also of St. Mary’s, Fathers of St. Joseph “is a portal for community and faith sharing — and building. The secular world with all of its deadlines, responsibilities, etc., beats us all down over time.” Connecting with his brothers in the group “raises my spirit and faith each and every meeting. I am reminded that we all walk down the path together in the light and that we need each other to stay on that path.”
Another St. Mary parishioner, Tim Blake, said, “Being part of the brotherhood of the Fathers of St. Joseph has helped my faith journey grow immeasurably, as a man and a husband. We look to our patron St. Joseph as a timeless example of a man who took care of the Holy Family with great courage, strength, devotion and complete trust in God.” Blake said his participation in the group is helping him to “lead my family to God our Father.”
Deacon Chris Kabat of St. Wenceslaus Parish in Iowa City appreciates how the Fathers of St. Joseph “has been that opportunity to pull myself out from the day to day (routine) and really get into how his role in the church overlays my role as husband and father.”
Isaac Doucette, a seminarian for the Diocese of Davenport, has participated in the group alongside his father, Bill. “Fathers of St. Joseph helps us grow in love of God, love of family and love of neighbor by fostering a deeper relationship with all of them through the powerful intercession of St. Joseph.”
During the Year of St. Joseph, the men encourage all people to consider consecrating themselves to St. Joseph. They also encourage everyone to pray the Little Office of St. Joseph; the group has a recording on Youtube at https://bit.ly/2OBsenz. On March 19, the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Morning Prayer, including the Litany of St. Joseph, will take place at St. Mary Church at 9 a.m.
Teets says, “Why not take a few moments out of your busy life to honor St. Joseph during The Year of St. Joseph?”
(Dan Teets contributed to this story.)