A Novena for the Feast Day of Joseph the Worker

Statue of St Joseph holding baby Jesus

Dear Hoyas and Friends of Georgetown,

It is hard to believe that it has already been six weeks since shelter-at-home orders were enacted across the country—and around the world—to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Georgetown, which transitioned to instructional continuity in March, is like a ghost town without our students, and we in Mission & Ministry are doing our best to engage them in what we have called spiritual continuity. Over the past few weeks, as we have been grappling with the impact of the coronavirus, the Christian community has also been traveling through the liturgical season of Lent, which concluded in the hope of Easter life—however precarious that hope might appear at the moment. Yet, we found that praying together through live-streamed liturgies at Dahlgren Chapel, the spiritual heart of our university, has been one way for Hoyas everywhere to remain connected during this difficult time.

Still another way we have maintained spiritual continuity during this time was through our St. Joseph Novena, in which we prayed with St. Joseph for the protection of the Georgetown community. St. Joseph has been a part of the history of Georgetown since 1872. The Jesuits and their students placed themselves under the protection of St. Joseph during a measles outbreak and, again, during the Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918 [Please click here for more information on the history of the St. Joseph statue at Georgetown]. On March 19—the Feast of St. Joseph—we began a novena, and prayed for nine consecutive days that St. Joseph would be with us as we journeyed through this difficult time.

On Friday—May 1, 2020—we celebrate another major feast day dedicated to St. Joseph—this time, under the title of Joseph the Worker. This feast extends the long relationship between Joseph and the cause of workers, as a testament to the holiness of human labor. This feast calls attention to the dignity, generosity, and, indeed, holiness of those who are working during this crisis.

In the spirit of this feast day, we invite you to join us for a second St. Joseph Novena, starting on Friday, May 1. For nine days, we will pray with St. Joseph for all the first responders who have put their lives on the line as they work to keep us safe and healthy. The intention of this St. Joseph Novena will be for all the nurses, doctors, and paramedics serving on the front line of this pandemic, but also for the grocery store clerks, foodbank volunteers, public works employees, and all essential employees who risk exposure to the virus through their work on behalf of the common good.

We ask you to join us for this second St. Joseph Novena, to pray with St. Joseph for the protection of not only our community, but all those who work to keep our community healthy, safe, and operational. On Friday, May 1, the Office of Mission & Ministry, the Office of Ignatian Programs, and the Office of Catholic Ministry will be sharing our St. Joseph Novena booklet—which will contain our nine days of prayers—on our websites, Facebook pages, and various social media accounts. We ask you to download the booklet on Friday, and join us for these nine days of prayer for all who are required to work during this pandemic—that St. Joseph will watch over them, and us, during this difficult time.

Fr. Mark Bosco, S.J., Ph.D.,
Vice President for Mission & Ministry,
Georgetown University