Saint Joseph: Role model, patron saint of fathers

By Eliana Tedrow
The Sooner Catholic

Fathers’ Day is a time to celebrate fatherhood and honor the irreplaceable role fathers play in their families and within communities.

Serving as an exemplary role model, the Church acknowledges Saint Joseph as the patron saint of fathers. As sons and daughters prepare to celebrate fatherhood on Sunday, June 17, recall the attributes that make Saint Joseph the ideal saint for fathers everywhere.

Saint Joseph was the husband of Mary and the foster father of Jesus. Through his obedience and dedication to the Holy Family, Saint Joseph led by example. He was selfless, a leader and a hard worker. These inspiring traits display the courage and humility Saint Joseph showed by his love and devotion to his family.

Perhaps these traits led Saint Teresa of Avila, as she was speaking of Saint Joseph, to advise, “If a person cannot find anyone to teach him how to pray, let him take this glorious saint for his guide, and he will not lose his way.”

It has been reported that it was Saint John Paul II’s father who inspired him to accept the vocation of the priesthood. He once said of his father, “Day after day, I was able to observe the austere way in which he lived. By profession he was a soldier and, after my mother's death, his life became one of constant prayer. Sometimes I would wake up during the night and find my father on his knees, just as I would always see him kneeling in the parish church. We never spoke about a vocation to the priesthood, but his example was in a way my first seminary, a kind of domestic seminary.”

Saint John Paul II used the words “domestic seminary” to define the vocation of fatherhood. Saint Joseph is a model father, who chose to accept the vocation of fatherhood with reverence and humility. Saint John Paul II would eventually use Saint Joseph as an example of the ideal father in his future writings.
In his 1989 apostolic exhortation, “Redemptoris Custos” (Guardian of the Redeemer: On the Person and Mission of Saint Joseph in the Life of Christ and the Church), Saint John Paul II referred to Saint Joseph to explain the Catholic definition of what it means to be a good father.
“Commending ourselves, then, to the protection of (Saint Joseph) to whose custody God entrusted his greatest and most precious treasures, let us at the same time learn from him how to be servants of the economy of salvation. May Saint Joseph become for all of us an exceptional teacher in the service of Christ's saving mission, a mission that is the responsibility of each and every member of the Church: husbands and wives, parents, those who live by the work of their hands or by any other kind of work, those called to the contemplative life and those called to the apostolate (Redemptoris Custos 32).

The noble role Saint Joseph played in the life of Mary and Jesus is held as a perfect example of fatherhood.

Eliana Tedrow is a freelance writer for the Sooner Catholic.

Prayer to Saint Joseph
Oh Saint Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interests and desires.

Oh Saint 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.

Oh Saint Joseph, I never weary contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms. I dare not approach while he reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss his fine head for me, and ask him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath. Saint Joseph, patron of departing souls, pray for us. Amen.