Saint Joseph was a man of service, a role model, a dreamer, and a devoted husband and father. And as a carpenter and hard worker, he earned an honest living to care for his family.
St. Joseph’s values illuminate through St. Joseph’s College, named in his honor over a century ago. Like St. Joseph, individuals in the College community strive to make a positive influence on society — even if no one is watching.
In December, Pope Francis proclaimed 2021 as the “Year of St. Joseph,” presenting SJC with an opportunity to celebrate St. Joseph’s legacy and the College community’s commitment to making the world a better place.
“The ‘Year of St. Joseph’ is a really exciting time for us as a college community because we have his namesake — we are a St. Joseph’s College,” said Cristian Murphy, campus ministry director at SJC Long Island. “St. Joseph is an interesting figure that not many people understand entirely because there is very little that we know about him; that’s sort of the glory of who he is.”
Year of St. Joseph
It was still 2020 when the Year of St. Joseph officially began — on Dec. 8, the day on which Catholics commemorate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. The year extends to the same date in 2021.
Pope Francis announced the Year of St. Joseph in an Apostolic Letter entitled “Patris corde,” meaning “With a Father’s Heart.” In the letter, Pope Francis describes St. Joseph as a tender and loving father , obedient, accepting, and creatively courageous.
“He was creatively courageous — those are the exact words the Pope used,” said Thomas Petriano, Ph.D., professor and chair of religious studies at St. Joseph’s. “The example being how he found a different way to take his family to safety. There was danger, and he used his creativity — that was connected to a dream — leading him to creatively find another way to courage.”
That same quality drove the Sisters of St. Joseph to establish St. Joseph’s College in 1916, he said.
“It was a dream, and it took creativity, and it took courage to make that dream happen,” Dr. Petriano said. “And when the College extended to SJC Long Island in Patchogue, that was responding to the need of the time, and it required creativity and courage that were born of a dream.”
“St. Joseph is all of that and more, and I’m delighted that we have this opportunity in this Year of St. Joseph to think about who he was, who he is, and who he can be for us,” Dr. Petriano added.
Following St. Joseph’s Footsteps
Sister Mary Ann Cashin, C.S.J., assistant professor of child study at SJC Long Island, said St. Joseph embodies many of SJC’s values, including his commitment to serving others in his community, his unwavering devotion to his faith, his role as a protector and his life of integrity.
“Our motto is ‘to be and not to seem’ — he seems like a man, in my estimation, who knew himself and was himself in every situation,” S. Mary Ann said. “His values shine; he wasn’t pretending to be someone else. He wasn’t ‘seeming.’ When he had anxiety, he worked through it and it didn’t overwhelm him. To me, the motto can certainly be applied to Joseph.”
Sister Suzanne Franck, C.S.J., associate professor of religious studies and director of academic advising at SJC Long Island, said throughout her 26-year tenure at the College she has witnessed how St. Joseph’s values influence the SJC community.
She sees it through the kindness students share with one another, the faculty’s unconditional commitment to giving students the best education possible, and the efforts of Campus Ministry and the Wellness Center to meet the needs of the SJC community and beyond — unconditionally, no matter what is happening in the world.
“I see it every day — even in this midst of this pandemic, the clubs have found ways to have events virtually that would provide support for college students and the wider world,” S. Suzanne said. “There’s a real awareness that there’s a bigger world out there, and we’re part of this bigger society, and there are needs beyond us. In the midst of their struggling, they found ways to raise money, have food drives … and support the people in the larger community.”