Saint Joseph the Worker

St Joseph the Worker - May 1  - Photo:canva.comSt Columban’s Mission Society has a special association with Saint Joseph who is the patron of the Church in China, where the Columbans began their missionary work in 1920.

In acknowledgement of the long association between Saint Joseph and the dignity and rights of workers, Pope Pius XII inaugurated the feast of Saint Joseph the Worker in 1955. It is a special day in the Church's liturgical calendar commemorated each year on May 1st. In salvation history, Saint Joseph is seen as a constant presence and faithful support in the most difficult of life’s moments. In his General Audience on 29 December 2021, Pope Francis reflected on Saint Joseph as a just and courageous man, but also one who suffered first-hand with Mary and Jesus the vulnerability and distress of being forced to leave their homeland.

Columban missionaries worldwide serve poor and marginalized communities who live in situations that drive them to migrate from their homes in search of economic security and favourable conditions for life. Columban missionaries see their sufferings and stand alongside them to offer support and advocate for conditions to preserve their dignity.

Fr Peter O’Neill, the Regional Director of Oceania has long a history of ministry amongst migrant worker communities. Before returning to Australia in 2017, Fr Peter worked in the diocese of Hsinchu, Taiwan for twenty-six years where he was the Diocesan Migrant Chaplain. In addition to pastoral support, a major part of his ministry was to advocate for the better protection of the rights of migrant workers. Fr Peter has continued his vital ministry to migrant workers since his return back home, as a member of Australian Catholic Religious Against Trafficking in Humans (ACRATH).

Saint Joseph,
you who experienced the suffering of those who must flee
you who were forced to flee to save the lives of those dearest to you,
protect all those who flee because of war, hatred, hunger.
Support them in their difficulties,
Strengthen them in hope, and let them find welcome and solidarity.
Guide their steps and open the hearts of those who can help them. Amen.[1]

Sr Caroline Vaitkunas RSM
Peace, Ecology and Justice Office
Columban Mission Centre, Essendon 

[1] Pope Francis General Audience (Paul VI Audience Hall), 29 December 2021


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