When the Covid-19 pandemic hit last year, more and more people began to — or increased — work from home. With it came both advantages and challenges: the former including not having to get “dressed up” for work, saving on transportation costs to get to work and eating a more nutritious lunch out of the refrigerator rather than eating at a fast-food restaurant with coworkers. But there are challenges too, like not lingering too long at the breakfast table with loved ones, not getting distracted by household chores and not going to the cupboard for snacks too often. Our work habits may have changed, but we can — and always can — draw inspiration from St. Joseph the Worker who probably did much of his work right at home.

Maybe he would have liked to spend more time in conversation with his wife, Mary, or instructing and laughing with his son, Jesus. But Joseph had a job to do — support his family — and he would have disciplined himself to get his carpentry projects done.

St. Joseph is an example of the holiness of human labor, the dignity of which is seen as participation in the creative work of God.

Feast of St. Joseph the Worker • May 1

May 1 is the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker. In 1955, Pope Pius XII established the feast day to foster deep devotion to St. Joseph among Catholics and in response to the “May Day” celebrations for workers sponsored by Communists. He said, “The spirit flows to you and to all men from the heart of the God-man, Savior of the world, but certainly, no worker was ever more completely and profoundly penetrated by it than the foster father of Jesus, who lived with Him in closest intimacy and community of family life and work.”

May 1 is also May Day (International Workers’ Day) and reflects Joseph’s status as the patron of workers.

In the Litany of St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus is referred to as the “glory of home life” and “model of artisans.” He was a carpenter, a working man: “Is this not the carpenter’s son?” (Mt 13:55).

St. Joseph also would have known what it was like to be out of work, as he took his family and fled to safety from King Herod in Egypt, leaving his own work behind. So whether you are not working, working at home or working at your job site, St. Joseph the Worker can be a model; he can show us how to infuse our work — or search for work — with faith, with hope and with love.

—Cori Fugere Urban

There will be parish food drives for local food shelves throughout the diocese on: Saturday, May 1 & Sunday, May 2 Please contact your parish for more information.

—Originally published in the April 24–30, 2021, edition of The Inland See.