Pope Francis said he was establishing the year because throughout this pandemic many people have made hidden sacrifices to protect others, just as St Joseph quietly protected and cared for Mary and Jesus. He also said he wanted to highlight St Joseph’s role as a father who served his family with charity and humility, adding, “Our world today needs fathers.”
In our diocese, we will marking this year with a full calendar of events, beginning with the Mass of St Joseph at the Cathedral on Friday March 19 at 10am. This Mass will include a blessing of the new diocesan icon of St Joseph, which will then travel to each parish. The icon will return to the Cathedral for a final Mass on St Joseph’s Day 2022.
Throughout the year there will be Masses and retreats for everyone. On June 12 at 11am our annual Mass for Marriage and Family will take place at the Cathedral as usual; this year with the addition of livestreaming. Later in the year there will be Masses for miscarriage (Sunday October 10th at noon in Newmarket) and for infertility (Saturday November 6 at 11am).
Retreats will be available for men (July 3 in Walsingham), for women (January 2022 in Cambridge) and a for both men and women, Rachel’s Vineyard will be running an abortion-recovery retreat in Norfolk.
Throughout this year, the Bishop is inviting everyone to participate in renewed prayers, especially the novena and consecration to St Joseph. The pandemic has isolated so many of us from each other, so the Marriage and Family Life Commission are also encouraging parishioners to take part in an online marriage enrichment retreat (https://smartloving.org/marriage-kit/). You are also invited to join one of the family groups operating in the diocese, or to start a diocesan branch of an existing organisation.
In Newmarket we already have a CANA group who meet regularly for weekend or online retreats. For more information please email: firstname.lastname@example.org. TEAMS also operate throughout the UK but do not yet have a diocesan group. If you want to know more about this international network of families, please email: email@example.com. For mothers and daughters, we will be offering a number of Cycle Prep afternoons throughout the year. These events enable mothers and daughters to work together on the general practices of charting fertility in a relaxed atmosphere. To participate please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This year, the diocese will also be launching its new prayer and listening ministry. Around 20 listeners are being trained to offer prayerful help to any parishioner needing assistance for any reason. As we emerge from the pandemic, we are being encouraged by Pope Francis and Bishop Alan to renew our faith in a Church whose quiet worker and protector, St Joseph, listens to our needs and seeks to secure and enrich the ties that hold us together as families and parishes. May we remember how much we need each other and reach out for any help we may need as we begin to rebuild our lives.
Picture of St Joseph. © Mazur/cbcew.org.uk