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Celebrating the Feast of St. Joseph

March 19 is the Feast of St. Joseph where we recognize the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the earthly father of Jesus. St. Joseph is remembered for his faith, obedience to God's will, and steadfast guardianship of Mary and Jesus. His life is an example of humility, righteousness, and the virtues of a devoted caretaker and provider.

St. Joseph, though mentioned sparingly in the Scriptures, plays a pivotal role in the story of Jesus's early life. We are introduced to St. Joseph in the first chapter of Matthew where we are given his genealogy, showing that he is a direct descendent of King David. After establishing this, Matthew continues his account of Joseph. Upon discovering that Mary was pregnant, Joseph intended to quietly dissolve his betrothal to protect her from public disgrace. However, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, revealing that the child Mary carried was conceived by the Holy Spirit and instructing him to take Mary as his wife. Joseph obeyed God and married Mary. 

Later, Joseph received word that he had to return to the town of his birth for a Roman census. In Luke 2:1-7, Joseph journeyed with Mary, who was great with child, to Jerusalem. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born. They discovered that there was no room for them in the inn so Jospeh searched until he found a stable where Mary could give birth. There, in a humble setting, Jesus was born, wrapped in swaddling clothes, and placed in a manger. 

Forty days after Jesus' birth, the Holy Family went to the temple in Jerusalem where, according to the Law of Moses, where Mary and Jesus were presented to the Lord and sacrifices were made on their behalf. It was there that they had a profound encounter with Simeon and Anna who recognized and proclaimed that Jesus was the Messiah.

Later, Joseph was warned in a dream about King Herod's intent to kill Jesus. Joseph immediately took the family to Egypt. After Herod's death, Joseph was instructed in a dream to return to Israel. He settled the family in Nazareth, Galilee.

The last mention of St. Joseph is found in Luke 2. Every year Joseph and Mary went to Jerusalem for the Passover. When Jesus was 12, they went according to their custom. As Mary and Joseph were returning home, they realized that Jesus was not part of their group. They returned to Jerusalem and found Jesus in the Temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. Mary asked Jesus why he had done this to him, that they had been searching anxiously for him. Jesus replied, “Why were you searching for me?” “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he was saying to them. Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. Luke 2:49-52

The Significance of St. Joseph

St. Joseph's significance lies not in the words he spoke, for none are recorded in Scripture, but in his actions and the virtues he exemplified. His willingness to accept God's plan for him, despite the personal and societal challenges it presented, underscores his deep faith and trust in God. His actions, accepting Mary, protecting Jesus, and guiding his family, highlight his integral role in God's salvation plan. Through Joseph, we learn the virtues of patience, courage, and the quiet strength of faith that acts without seeking recognition or reward.

Celebrations Around the World

Polish families celebrate this day with a Saint Joseph's table in their house that is decorated with red and white, cards, and candles.

In Spain, St. Joseph's Day is their version of Father's Day. It is traditional for children to cook their fathers' breakfast or even give small gifts. 

In the Philippines, it is traditional to hold a banquet for the Holy Family. An old man, a young lady, and a small boy are honored as representations of the Holy Family. The three are seated around a table set with the family's best silverware and china and served a variety of courses. Hymns are sung while they are spoonfed by senior members of the host family and important guests. 

In Sicily, Italy, St. Joseph is their patron saint. Traditional food for the day is a Neopolitan dessert called Zeppole and a soup that dates to ancient times and is prepared with fava beans known as Maccu di San Giuseppe. It is also a day for giving food to those in need.

Ways to Celebrate the Feast of St. Joseph

Read some stories about St. Joseph from the Bible. Matthew 1:18-25, Matthew 2:13-23, or Luke 2.

Wear red or decorate your home with the color red. 

Make  Zeppole, an Italian doughnut. (recipe at the bottom of the page)

Since St. Joseph was a carpenter, let your kids hammer nails into scraps of wood. Talk about the craft of carpentry and how Joseph taught Jesus how to be a carpenter. Or sprinkle a dish with breadcrumbs to represent sawdust.

AND here’s a great mission opportunity for your family! Since St. Joseph was a carpenter and used his hands to provide for the Holy Family, we can use our hands to provide for others by helping to rebuild after natural disasters. 

Did you know the Anglican Relief and Development Fund offers domestic disaster response mission trips? This is a chance to use your hands and feet to help people rebuild after a natural disaster, reaching out in the spirit of St. Joseph and with the love of Christ. Upcoming trip opportunities include June 9-15, 2024 (Tornado Response in Rolling Fork, MS), August 25-31, 2024 (Tornado Response in Clarksville, TN), and September 1-7, 2024 (Tornado Response in Clarksville, TN). You can learn more about each trip and sign up to join ARDF on their website!

Zeppole (Italian Donuts)

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 1/2 cup whole milk

  • 8 Tbsp unsalted butter

  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

  • 3 large eggs, room temperature

  • zest of ½ lemon, optional

  • oil for frying, such as peanut oil or vegetable oil

  • 1/4 cup confectioners sugar, to dust


In a large 3-quart saucepan, combine water, milk, butter, granulated sugar, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently.

Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup flour all at once using a wooden spoon. Once incorporated, place the saucepan back over medium heat and stir constantly for another 1 1/2 to 2 minutes to release extra moisture and partially cook the flour. The dough will look smooth and a thin film will form on the bottom of the pan.

Transfer the dough to a large mixing bowl and use an electric mixer to beat on medium speed for 1 minute to cool the mixture slightly. Add 4 eggs, adding them 1 at a time and allowing eggs to fully incorporate between each addition. Once all eggs are incorporated, beat another minute until the dough is smooth and forms a thick ribbon when you pull up on the whisk.

Transfer dough to a piping bag with a 1/2-inch opening, or use a large zip bag and cut a 1/2-inch opening at the tip.

Heat oil to 375˚F in a dutch oven with a thermometer attached, or in a deep fryer. Once oil is hot, pipe 1-inch lengths into the hot oil, swiftly cutting the dough as you pipe into the oil. Pipe closer to the surface of the oil to avoid oil splashes.

Fry 4-5 minutes total, turning them over halfway if they don't turn on their own then transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to soak up extra oil then dust with powdered sugar to serve.

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