St. Joseph House
The 2020 Catholic Appeal is currently underway. Each year, donations to the Appeal meet the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of tens of thousands of individuals and families in our diocese. The largest beneficiary of funding through the Catholic Appeal is Catholic Social Services (CSS).
CSS works with persons of all faiths and cultures in the Spirit of God’s universal love to advance human dignity and promote social justice, truth, and solidarity in our community. This year, due to the unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for the programs and services offered by CSS is greater than it has ever been.
CSS provides emergency housing and homeless shelters to those in their time of greatest need across the Diocese of Fall River. One of these shelters is St. Joseph House in Hyannis, which I was honored to give my blessing to four years ago. It has 20 beds for female guests and 30 beds for male guests as well as ten overflow beds. It offers a day program for men and women of all ages who are currently or formerly homeless, or at risk for homelessness.
The need for resources, coupled with the demographics of Cape Cod, presents unique challenges to the day-to-day operations at St. Joseph House. The onset of the coronavirus earlier this year compounded these needs. The area has seen an increase in homelessness, particularly among the elderly: a population that often has more significant medical issues, greater susceptibility to contracting the virus, and financial hardship surrounding the loss of a spouse, pension, or longtime home.
Since COVID-19 began, St. Joseph House has heroically answered the needs of those in their area. It has transitioned to a 24/7 “shelter in place” site, providing shelter to its guests around the clock. St. Joseph House has also provided COVID-19 testing for all guests and has served as a safe place for them to stay healthy, as all guests have tested negative for the virus.
To read more about St. Joseph House including words of gratitude from guests, and how you can support the 79th Annual Catholic Appeal, please visit: https://www.catholicfoundationsema.org/eddie/
St. Joseph, the Perfect Patron
Although the Feast of St. Joseph occurs on March 19th in the Liturgical Calendar, as I shared about the wonderful work of the home that bears his name, it seemed a good time to share more about my connection to St. Joseph. A quick note about St. Joseph’s feast day— through the blessing of social media, I was able to celebrate this year’s Mass in Portuguese via Facebook Live. The Mass was viewed over 1700 times by people across the globe, including my family in Brazil.
St. Joseph’s exemplary model of care for Mary and Jesus has long been a model for fathers across the world. He is counted as a righteous man in the Scriptures, and devotion to him continues to increase. St. Joseph is the patron saint of the Universal Church, having been declared so on December 8, 1870, by Blessed Pope Pius IX in an encyclical that “pleaded for the care of the world’s destitute children” called Quemadmodum Deus.
Although my connection to St. Joseph increased during my time in seminary, beginning when I joined the Vocationist Fathers at the (Vocacionario São José. (St. Joseph Vocationary). My religious order, the Vocationists, is under the patronage of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. In fact, our personal greeting to each other is not hello or good morning, but instead, we greet each other with “Jesus, Mary, Joseph.” Vocationist spirituality is based upon union with the Blessed Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – with the Militant, Suffering and Triumphant Church, through the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Do you see how many connections my vocation has given me with St. Joseph?
Personally, I connect to St. Joseph’s simplicity and unassuming, quiet role in the life of Jesus and Mary. We do not have a single word spoken by him in the Scriptures, yet, no one can deny the important role he played in salvation history and the life of the Church.
Light on the Horizon
As Massachusetts continues to cautiously open, there is a renewal of hope for the future. We begin to see the light at the end of this unprecedented tunnel. Throughout these days, my prayers have been for each of us to remain focused on the true light, the true hope—Jesus Christ. May your faith continue to sustain you and know as always, my prayers are with you.
Yours in Christ,
Bishop da Cunha