Homily by our Ecclesiastical Master of Ceremonies Rev. Marc-Andre Campbell on the Feast of St. Joseph
Thirty ago today Bishop Pearce Lacey, who was then our regional bishop, accompanied by Fr. Fred Foley and several parishioners marked the feast day by a ceremonial sod turning thus heralding the beginning of the construction of our new church. In June of the following year Cardinal Ambrozic would consecrate to God this building we now worship in. Many of those gathered here tonight were present at these momentous occasions and have laboured hard in order to make this possible. To all of you we owe a debt of gratitude.
Over the years new families have joined us and have in their own way made significant contribution to our parish community. St. Joseph’s is a community where all who seek the Lord and are willing to commit themselves to him find a place. We come from all over the world, different cultures and ways of doing things, a great variety of points of view but we are united in our desire to be faithful to the Lord Jesus. And that is a blessing we must celebrate!
For the last 12 years I have had the great privilege of being your pastor. No matter where life takes me I will always cherish this time and hold this parish in a special place in my prayers.
All of us, according to our abilities, charisms and responsibilities have made significant contributions. In doing this we have sought to imitate our patron and great intercessor, Saint Joseph.
Allow me this evening to reflect with you on one particular aspect of the noble character of our Patron. St. Joseph is invoked as guardian of the Holy Family and Patron of the Universal Church. These two realities are intertwined inasmuch as the one who saw to the well being of Our Lord Jesus in his youth now watches over his mystical body, the Church.
Joseph is that Righteous man, truly blessed, from the House of David who places his faith entirely in God and responds to His Plan with generosity and zeal. He fears not to take our Lady as his wife, he sees to her well being, provides for a place where the Child can be born and whisks them both to safety when Herod’s murderous rage threatens them. He provides a home where the Holy Family can live happily in the sight of God and men. Joseph fulfills well his duty of protector both of the Holy Family and of the Church. It is right for us to place our trust in his powerful intercession.
But I would also like to suggest that we who invoke him as patron would do well to imitate him; for we too are entrusted with the awesome responsibility of caring for the Lord.
Think of it for a second... The all powerful God made himself a child, dependent on the care of his mother and father. The Lord Jesus, our Saviour, continue to place himself in the care of fragile and limited, scandal prone human beings!
How do we follow the example of our Patron you may ask?
We do so when we see to the needs of those who are most vulnerable among us. Over the years I have witnessed to the incredible generosity of our parish community. From the essential and discreet work of our St. Vincent de Paul Society, to whose appeal for food and money all respond generously, the beautiful sight of Christmas hampers - hundreds of them being put together and distributed is something to behold. Our collaboration with the Human Family in Christ - that assists with education and healthcare in a Bolivian community, the fruit of Fr. Andrew Cuschieri’s vision is another example. The overwhelming response to mission appeals, Sharelife Campaigns, and the emergency relief that is needed occasionally also speak to our charity and care for others. In doing this we follow in Joseph’s footsteps.
We may want to challenge ourselves to be more like Joseph, who had to flee persecution and bring his little family to safety. We must rise to the challenge posed by threats to religious freedom both here and abroad. And see how we can concretely assist our Christian brothers and sisters who are in need.
No doubt Joseph, in partnership with Our Lady, provided a home where the Lord could grow in wisdom and strength. Following his example we have sought to make of this parish community a place where we all can grow in wisdom and strength. A place where the Catholic faith and its tradition are taught in integrity. Where all of us have to contend with the church’s teaching and discipline, which we may not always be comfortable with. It is never easy to hear things I might disagree with, things I find difficult to understand. But it is important, no rather it is essential for us to hear these teachings and to be challenged by them. I think of, in particular, the great moral questions we face in our time. It is crucial for us to be clear about them. We live in a world that pretends that anything goes, anything is possible but this is a misunderstanding not founded in God.
Wether it be on the sanctity of life, sacred and inviolable from the moment of conception to natural death to a christian understanding of man as
created in the image and likeness of God - Male and Female. An understanding that leads to a proper vision of Marriage and human sexuality, of the orderly organization of family and society. In all this the world paints us as being intolerant and out of touch. But really, I am not sure who is actually intolerant in all this...Might it be those who militantly promote a new secular dogmatism, whose big tent is fast becoming narrow...
Our challenge is to be sure of our convictions but filled with charity and compassion so that we may engage our contemporaries in ways that captures their hearts and lead them to conversion, which at its essence is a turning to the Lord.
A few years ago, in order to respond to this pressing challenge the Parish launched a group called the St. Joseph Protectors. They fulfill an essential role in our community as a place of formation and outreach. I pray that it might flourish and be a place where understanding of God’s Law and healing of man’s heart is made possible. I encourage all of you to consider what role you can play in the necessary transformation of our society.
I am fully aware that when we, from the pulpit, bring up these difficult issues, in particular abortion and euthanasia but others as well, some of you roll your eyes and the bubble over your head kinda reads “ this again”. Well yes, this again... because it matters, because it’s a matter of fidelity to the Gospel and to Christ. Ultimately all of us must learn to be obedient to God’s law for that is the path to true happiness!
What never ceases to fill me with awe is how the Lord of all, all knowing and all powerful chose to make himself vulnerable. Think of the child Jesus in the care of St. Joseph and our Lady but also think of how he places himself in our hands in the most holy Sacrament of the Altar. What a risk he takes, what a responsibility he entrusts to us!
It seems to me that we have, as a parish community, and following the great model given to us by St. Joseph, been good custodians of the Sacred Mysteries.
Over the years we have striven to celebrate these mysteries with reverence and faith, knowing full well that it is the Lord of Life that is in our midst. Responding as best we can to the invitation of Pope Benedict XVI we have sought to draw deeply from the treasury of our Tradition. We have done this through our music and the attention to our liturgical environment, through a sense of profound reverence that should inhabit all of us in the face of so great a mystery - rediscovering the traditional postures of facing Eastward together and reverently kneeling in the presence of the Eucharistic Lord. We have in all things sought to emphasize the centrality of the Most Holy Eucharist, the Source and Summit of Christian life.
On occasion we hear that this is done in this way or that music is selected because this is what father likes. I would like to take this opportunity to correct this. Our Liturgical life and the worship of God is never about what I like or what you like, for that matters. It is about what the Church prescribes, once again we are called to obedience and in being obedient we are shaped, formed... molded into the image of Christ to whom we are incorporated by Baptism.
Allow me to thank all those who work discreetly to make the rich liturgical life we enjoy at St. Joseph’s possible. Few realize the hours you spend making things ready. I have grown to appreciate your service. Thank you!
Over the year I have been privileged to witness how beautiful and faithful worship impacts the lives of those who open themselves to it. The power of the ritual, the simple beauty of Catholic music that moves souls to God, the occasional good homily that makes us think. I know for a fact that through it young people have considered their future honestly seeking God’s will. And people of all ages have been lead to greater fidelity to the Almighty through our worship. For that we must all be thankful. I know that St. Joseph’s parish will remain a source of good liturgical life and it will, because of it continue to bear fruit for the Glory of God!
Dear friends we find ourselves at a difficult time in our Church’s history. If you look at the news things seems like they are going from bad to worse. But we are invited to look with confidence to our holy patron, that blessed man who exemplifies for us the virtues of faith and obedience. If we follow his example and like him place our trust in the Lord and if we are obedient to his plan the renewal we hope for will come. Yes there are difficult times for the Church and for believers ahead but hear the message of the Angel.... Do not be afraid!
Trust in the Lord and be obedient to his Holy Will. He makes everything new!