St Joseph’s Day Dinner: What and Why

The Church traditionally dedicates the month of March to the special veneration of St Joseph. “He was chosen by the eternal Father as the trustworthy guardian and protector of his greatest treasures, namely, his divine Son and Mary, Joseph’s wife,” says St Bernardine of Siena. “He carried out this vocation with complete fidelity until at last God called him, saying ‘Good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your Lord.’” For his leadership of the Holy Family, St Joseph has been declared the protector and patron of the universal Catholic Church.

For decades, Dignity Washington has celebrated St Joseph with a dinner that is truly a community affair requiring many hands to make it happen. This article explains a little about why we celebrate St Joseph and what we do in a community-wide fellowship.

Last Advent season, Dignity Washington’s Liturgy Committee based its Faith Sharing session on Journeying with Joseph in Matthew’s Gospel. March 19th is the Feast of Saint Joseph, as in “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,” and it is an Italian holiday as the model of fatherhood, his qualities of protector, provider, and nurturer run all through what is said of him.

Why do we celebrate this festival? Primarily in fulfillment of a vow. Many centuries ago in Sicily, a horrible drought occurred. No rains came; no crops grew; many people starved. The people prayed to God and asked St Joseph to join them through his own intercessions. After thirteen days, the rains came, the crops grew (especially fava beans), and they were saved. They had promised Joseph a festival in his honor and all these centuries later, they and their heirs still keep that promise.

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