Rome (Italy). On 19 March 2022, the Solemnity of St. Joseph is celebrated, which Blessed Pius IX proclaimed, on 8 December 1870, patron of the universal Church. After living in 2021, a special year with St. Joseph, proposed by Pope Francis, in the General Audience between 17 November 2021 and 16 February 2022, he dedicated a cycle of catechesis to him with this motivation, “Never before today, in this time marked by a global crisis with various components, can he be a support, comfort, and guide for us.”
In the first catechesis, explaining the meaning of his name, he speaks of the aspect of Providence:
The name Joseph in Hebrew means ‘God increase, God make it grow’. It is a wish, a blessing founded on trust in providence and referring especially to the fruitfulness and growth of children. (…) He is a man full of faith in His providence; he has faith in God’s providence. Each of his actions narrated by the Gospel is dictated by the certainty that God ‘makes it grow’, that God ‘increases’, that God ‘adds’, that is, that God provides to carry out His plan of salvation.”
With his example, St. Joseph, whom Don Bosco wanted as patron of the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, teaches us to be available to God’s plans and to trust in Providence:
“The feast of St. Joseph, whom Don Bosco left us as Patron of the Institute is an opportunity for us to invoke his intercession and to compare our life with his path of holiness made up of silence, of welcoming Christ, of humble availability to the signs of God,” we read in the book, The FMA in Prayer (p. 98).
On the 150th anniversary of the foundation of the FMA Institute, it is significant to recognize the numerous references to the active presence of St. Joseph from the very beginning, which are found in the Cronistoria of the Institute, in the life of Mother Mazzarello and in the biographies of the first FMA. One of these is Blessing Maddalena Caterina Morano (1847-1908),
an FMA of Piedmont origins called to carry out her service in Sicily, where she was able to faithfully enculturate the Salesian charism and the Preventive System.
Great was Mother Morano’s devotion to St. Joseph, as can be seen from some quotes from the Positio on the virtues of the Servant of God Magdalene Caterina Morano:
“Her confidence could be said to have a child-like simplicity, but it was profound confidence, as when she attached a small bag of stones to the neck of the statuette of St. Joseph, as many as the thousands of lire needed to pay her debts, and she was certain that St. Joseph provided the sum. The Rosary of St. Joseph, composed by the Servant of God, has now passed in vogue, ‘St. Joseph, take care of it’. She wanted this ejaculation to be written on all the doors and at various points of the School.’ Sr. Maddalena Morano had composed a chaplet in honor of St. Joseph and had it recited with great faith when she needed graces.
Regarding the house in via Caronda in Catania, it is said: “She had no money available, but she had so much faith in Divine Providence and in the intercession of the Patriarch St. Joseph and, with her continuous and heavy work, she brought this to completion; it is the most important house in Sicily.”
And more: “She instilled this devotion to St. Joseph in the girls and Sisters.” “She did not start any construction of a new building without entrusting it to the patronage of the Patriarch St. Joseph.” “She had appointed him as Economer of the house.” “She invoked him with the most familiar names as that of ‘my old man’.”
A worker from the Catania house testifies, “I testify from personal knowledge that the Servant of God had a living faith that she knew how to instill in us workers too. In fact, the construction of the Chapel of the Institute (of Catania) began without even a penny in cash and Mother Morano instilled courage in us by reassuring us that St. Joseph would think about it. To our amazement, she often called us and handed us large sums, without leaving debts.”
Her apostolic zeal led her to invoke St. Joseph to obtain more space to dedicate to works for girls. “In the house in Via dell’Aiuto (in Catania) there were many day students and boarders. The spaces were full and the Cardinal (Giuseppe Benedetto Dusmet, now Blessed) encouraged Mother Morano to accept as many as she could. She began to look for new land and said to Sr. Antonia Camuto, ‘We will give a penny, and St. Joseph will give us a new field for our works, because we are too small’. In March 1901, I found a vast and grandiose land with the image of St. Joseph, or rather, of the Holy Family, whose owner really wanted to sell it. When the Sisters asked her in which part of the city she had found the land, she replied, ‘There is a beautiful S. Beppuzzo (St. Joseph), and that’s enough. Pray!'”(Cf. Teresio Bosco, Magdalene Mother for many, new edition edited by Maria Concetta Ventura, LDC 2020).