In recognition of Pope Francis declaring 2021 as the Year of St. Joseph, teens from St. Jerome Parish in Largo are preparing for consecration to St. Joseph. But just as St. Joseph was part of the Holy Family, this consecration is also focused on the family, with parents and children reading, praying, and discussing together.
“The teens are building a relationship with their fathers and with the earthly father of Jesus at the same time,” said Michael Guarino, youth minister, who added that it has been awe-inspiring to watch these relationships grow.
Consecrating oneself to St. Joseph means to be entrusted to his paternal care so that, like a father, he can help with personal growth in virtue and holiness. To facilitate this process, Guarino sends daily text messages with the readings from Consecration to St. Joseph by Father Donald Calloway to the twelve participating families and they all gather each week at the parish for dinner and to discuss the consecration and the role of St. Joseph in their lives and in the Church. He has found that the teens especially relate to the strong, silent faith of St. Joseph.
“They desire to learn more about St. Joseph and lead a life of protection, protecting life as a child of God,” said Guarino.
In his apostolic letter, Patris Corde, which announced the Year of St. Joseph, Pope Francis speaks about the courage of St. Joseph in taking on the responsibility to protect and provide for the Holy Family, and as an extension, the care of the whole Church as well. Just as the teens of St. Jerome Parish have recognized, Pope Francis calls the faithful to emulate St. Joseph’s love and protection.
“Saint Joseph is invoked as protector of the unfortunate, the needy, exiles, the afflicted, the poor and the dying. Consequently, the Church cannot fail to show a special love for the least of our brothers and sisters, for Jesus showed a particular concern for them and personally identified with them,” writes Pope Francis. “From Saint Joseph, we must learn that same care and responsibility. We must learn to love the child and his mother, to love the Sacraments and charity, to love the Church and the poor.”
The 33-day consecration began on February 15 and will end on the Feast of St. Joseph, March 19. As they enter more deeply into this relationship with St. Joseph, the St. Jerome Youth Group will mark the occasion with a procession on March 20th around the community, led by a crucifix and banner of St. Joseph. The procession, taking place after the 9 a.m. morning Mass, will cover a couple of miles and include praying the rosary, reading from Scripture and moments of silence. It is Guarino’s hope that this consecration will lead its participants into a deeper relationship with Jesus through the intercession of Joseph and inspire them to live their faith fully.
“To encounter Jesus is the whole mission of our Youth Group, and that encounter is for the teens and their parents and the parish community,” explained Guarino. “Our goal is a daily way to commit to each other and learn more about the Church and the saints. This is one way to teach, and by teaching, to give them the ability to courageously live the Gospel.”