By Sabina Kneifl, St. Francis parishioner

We are in the Year of St. Joseph! We all know him as the spouse of the Mother of God. But did you know you may call him Mirror of Patience, Lover of Poverty, Model of Workmen, Glory of Domestic Life, Guardian of Virgins, Pillar of Families, Comfort of the Afflicted, Hope of the Sick, Patron of the Dying, Terror of Demons, Protector of the Holy Church? Let this sink in a little. Does his intercession with the Divine Trinity leave out anyone? If it does, I can’t see it.

My personal journey of discovering this great saint began in September of 2020, when my family and I attended the Christ Our Life Conference in Des Moines. Fr. Don Calloway was one of the speakers. My friends seemed to know of him and his conversion story, but I had never heard his name before. So I went in blind, so to speak. He had barely finished his talk when I got up and went out into the hallway to find his table and purchase his book, Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father. I knew it would not take long before copies sold out. I also knew my family had to do the consecration. But I had no idea what a consecration was, what the book was about, and most importantly, how I would talk my husband into doing this as a family. I asked him once, then left it alone.

My husband attended the same conference with me, saw I bought the book, and had even agreed to do the consecration, but the busyness of life got his attention. About three months later, he went to a book club meeting with friends from our parish. Two days later, I opened an Amazon package that contained Fr. Calloway’s consecration book! If you’re not laughing, I know I am. That of course sparked a conversation and we decided to follow through with our plan to do the consecration as a family.

Now that the Holy Spirit had brought my husband and I together in this effort, we picked a start date, the closest possible from Fr. Calloway’s list, which had us consecrating to St. Joseph on January 23, the Feast of the Holy Spouses! We knew there would be roadblocks – there was Christmas, we were scheduled to go on vacation, and my husband was to be away on a 4-day silent retreat. But our hearts were set, so we began.

During the 33 days, we followed the promptings in the book. It was laid out very simply for us: we read 20-30 minutes every day and finished with the 2-minute Litany to St. Joseph prayer. It wasn’t always easy. It most definitely wasn’t perfect. But most days we read together, prayed together, and learned so much in the process. We celebrated on our Consecration day with a home cooked meal and the beautiful, short consecration prayer. We did it!

I knew we were not alone in this experience. After all, those books sold at the conference (or online since the Holy Father declared 2021 the Year of St. Joseph) didn’t go in recycle bins, but went into loving homes – homes in need of prayers and help, homes where at least one person had felt the desire to read the book, do the consecration, or simply know this beautiful, holy, strong, inspiring, helpful man and saint.

So how is this relevant to you or our parish? Well, I think God has been moving hearts and He doesn’t exactly go on the nightly news to announce how or what He’s doing. But you’re about to find out. The St. Francis Church staff and parishioners want to celebrate the Year of St. Joseph in various ways. For example, on March 19 we celebrated the Solemnity of St. Joseph. Some parishioners brought a couple of St. Joseph statues from home, purchased (and individually wrapped) treats to set up along with a collection basket for Des Moines Area Religious Council (DMARC) on the table in the Gathering Space, and spread the word as much as possible. After morning Mass, Fr. Mark blessed the statues and treats. A few more parishioners had just finished the 33 days, so he led them through the Consecration prayer in front of St. Joseph’s icon in the church; he did the same at 5:30 p.m. after Stations of the Cross. We donated about $330 to the DMARC (who feed the poor of our community) that day.

There is another wonderful opportunity on the horizon to incorporate the Year of St. Joseph into the life of our church community and you are invited to learn about it and hopefully participate. Staff and parishioners want to help as many people as possible go through the Consecration to St. Joseph. We want you to feel the same joy, hope and peace that my family experienced. Here’s what is planned:

SFA Consecration to St. Joseph: June 7 – July 10, 2021

  • Decide how you want to participate: individually, as a family, or as part of small group
  • Register to receive your free copy of Fr. Calloway’s book, Consecration to St. Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father
  • Follow the 20 – 30-minute daily readings and prayer as outlined in the book, beginning June 7
  • Meet once per week if you are part of a small group
  • Ask questions and give yourself grace
  • Attend Consecration Celebration the morning of July 10 or pray an act of consecration on your own that day

Why these dates? Beginning the consecration on June 7 allows for the Consecration Celebration to take place on July 10, the weekend we celebrate the 30-year anniversary of our church! Our parish was established on July 11, 1991.

We invite you to move past the sorrows and hardships of the last year and get close to someone who, as St. Teresa of Avila said, “gives very real help to souls who commend themselves to him”. I don’t know about you, but I’m in need of real help from Heaven! There are people like myself who are already praying every day for you, the one reading this and the one whose heart is stirred to do the Consecration too. Please say yes!

For more information on the Year of St. Joseph at St. Francis, visit the dedicated page on the parish website.