By Robin Gomes
The Pakistan Catholic Bishops' Conference (PCBC) has announced that it is dedicating 2021 as the Year of St. Joseph. PCBC president Archbishop Joseph Arshad of the Diocese of Islamabad-Rawalpindi made the announcement of the yearlong celebration in a video message on 12 January on the archdiocesan YouTube channel Ave Maria Catholic TV.
The Pakistani bishops’ initiative comes in the footsteps of Pope Francis, who on 8 December issued an Apostolic Letter Patris corde (“With a Father’s Heart”), proclaiming a “Year of Saint Joseph”, starting on 8 December 2020 and ending on the same day in 2021. The Pope’s letter marked 150 years since the decree of Pope Pius IX, Quemadmodum Deus, which declared St Joseph Patron of the Universal Church.
In his video message, Archbishop Arshad recalled that Blessed Pope Pius IX had also declared 1870 as a Year of St. Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church. “To celebrate the anniversary,” he said, “we, in our diocese, also began this year on January 1, 2021, so that we may give more reverence to St. Joseph and change our lives.”
Archbishop Arshad lauded St. Joseph as a tender and loving father who cared for Jesus and his family. He was also a righteous man who, faithful to the will of God, contributed to our salvation. His life was full of love and simplicity.
He noted that St. Joseph worked hard as an ordinary carpenter and cared for his family so that the task God had entrusted to the Child Jesus might be accomplished. “Just as he is the head of the Holy Family and the protector of Mother Mary and Jesus,” the archbishop noted, “he is also the protector and defender of the Church and of the poor, the needy and all of suffering humanity.” “As we are celebrating the Year of St. Joseph,” the Pakistani bishops’ president noted, “the role of parents and especially of fathers is very important for us.” The father of the family needs to follow the footsteps of St. Joseph in caring for and protecting his family.
Archbishop Arshad concluded his message praying that the Year of St. Joseph might be a blessing for all people and for their families, as well as for the Church.