As we continue celebrating this Year of St. Joseph, I wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on St. Joseph as Patron of the Dying, or “Patron of a Happy or Peaceful Death.” This patronage has been bestowed upon Joseph, having died with Jesus and Mary at his side. This beautiful image of St. Joseph’s death offers hope and comfort to the faithful in light of our mortality as well as when grieving the loss of loved ones.
Here is an ancient prayer to St. Joseph, praying for his intercession at the hour of death, believed to have been found in the year 50 AD:
O St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interest and desires. O St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. So that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers. O St. Joseph, I never weary of contemplating you, and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him close in my name and kiss His fine head for me and ask Him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, patron of departing souls, pray for me. Amen.
The Office of Faith Formation offers a bereavement support group for the diocese, which also serves as the principal support group in the Fall River area. This is a support group to help people cope with the loss of a loved one. “Losing someone we love truly hurts, leaving us with so many unanswered questions and a multitude of conflicting emotions. At first, we may turn to family and friends to share our grief; but as time goes on, we may find it difficult to reach out to them. It becomes difficult for them to understand our feelings.”
This bereavement support group allows individuals to express their experiences, feelings, and emotions with others on the same journey. It is a blessing to have available this safe place in our diocese for anyone who is grieving to share and discover helpful ways to cope and begin to find new strength and hope.
Due to COVID-19, 2021 live sessions are not allowed. Currently, online sessions are offered on Tuesdays. For your convenience – two sessions are offered, one at 4:30 p.m. and another at 7 p.m. Anyone interested in joining the group or learning more is asked to call 508-678-2828 ext. 27 or 508-642-0583, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Year of St. Joseph Event
The next, Year of St. Joseph event, will take place on March 19, the Solemnity of St. Joseph. It will be commemorated with a Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Fall River from 7 to 8 p.m. A limited number of tickets will be available to attend the Mass in person. Those may be obtained by visiting fallriverfaithformation.org. For those who cannot attend in person, the Mass will be livestreamed on the Faith Formation website.
2021 Catholic Women and Men’s Conference
The annual Fall River Diocesan Women and Men’s Conference, sponsored each March as an opportunity for Lenten renewal, will be offered this year in a virtual format. Using Zoom video teleconferencing technology, parishioners from across the Diocese will be able to take part in a program of engaging presentations, prayer, music, and Mass as a way to help prepare themselves spiritually for Easter.
The 2021 Women and Men’s Conference program is set for Saturday, March 20, from 1 to 5 p.m. A Mass at 7 p.m. on the preceding evening, Friday, March 19, will formally open the conference. Persons may register to take part via this link. There is no cost to participate.
I will celebrate the conference opening Mass on the March 19th Feast of St. Joseph. As the universal church observes this special Year of St. Joseph, the theme selected for the Women and Men’s Conference, “A Father’s Healing Touch,” draws from Pope Francis’ apostolic letter that proclaimed the observance.
Catholic musician/composer and inspirational speaker ValLimar Jansen will be our featured presenter during the Saturday conference program. A speaker at past conferences, Jansen’s lively storytelling, one-woman skits, and musical performances have been enthusiastically received with attendees asking for her to return.
Both the Friday evening and Saturday afternoon Masses will take place in St. Mary’s Cathedral in Fall River. Conference participants may choose to take part in these Masses virtually or by attending one or both in-person. For more information on registration for either of these Masses, please visit our diocesan website.
Be assured of my prayers as we continue our Lenten journey.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha