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Today, we celebrate the Feast of St. Joseph. St. Joseph was the loving foster-father of Jesus. He is the patron and protector of the universal Church. He is a model for all parents in his humility, holiness, and in his love and devotion for Mary and Jesus.
Today is also a day to celebrate the life, example and contributions of the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph to the Church and the world. I have been blessed to have worked and ministered with Sisters of St. Joseph for over 25 years. As a seminarian, I worked closely with Sister Eileen Driscoll and Sister Mary Lou Cassidy on ministry for the aged. As a newly ordained priest, I learned a great deal about parish ministry and faithful discipleship from Sister Ruth Feeney, who is beloved at my first parish, St. Mary’s in Lynn. A quarter of a century later, I continue to be inspired by the Sisters of St. Joseph at home (the wonderful sisters of the convent of Holy Name, West Roxbury) and at the Pastoral Center in Braintree, where Sister Marian Batho, Sister Anne D’Arcy, Sister Terry Jardin, Sister Eleanor Shea, Sister Margaret Sullivan and Sister Philomene Walsh minister so faithfully. All of these women reflect the life and ministry of St. Joseph.
Since 1873, the Sisters of St. Joseph have responded with grace and compassion to the needs of their neighbors in Boston. Mother Mary Regis Casserly came to Boston in response to a request for assistance from our Catholic schools. Her community soon expanded their ministry to include caring for the multitude of needs they discovered in the neighborhoods around them. In 2005, the community formulated the following mission statement which reflects their devotion to Christ, His Church and us:
‘‘Enflamed with the compassion of God, we Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston, women of the Church, rooted in the Gospel together with our Associates are impelled by the active, inclusive love of God to: deepen our relationship with God and the dear neighbor without distinction; foster prophetic communion; and journey into the future with Sisters and Associates throughout the world and with all God’s creation.’’
To date, the Sisters of St. Joseph have staffed over 130 educational institutions, worked in over 30 health care ministries, and participated in over 85 service ministries within the Archdiocese of Boston. Like St. Joseph, they care for others with humility and holiness, and are willing to do whatever is needed to bring others closer to God and his bountiful love. March 19th is a special day for the Sisters of St. Joseph. Every day we honor the rich heritage and ministry of the over 120 religious communities of brothers, sisters and religious priests who minister in the Archdiocese of Boston. To every brother, sister and religious priest who ministers in the Archdiocese of Boston, St. Joseph and I thank you.
Father Erikson is Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia of the Archdiocese of Boston.