The Bishop of Shrewsbury has dedicated the recovery of the parishes and communities of the diocese from the coronavirus pandemic to the care of St Joseph.
Bishop Mark Davies has also expressed his deep gratitude to the Catholics of the diocese for their Christian response during the crisis, including the care for the dying, the poor and the most isolated.
He said that tens of thousands of people joined the Easter liturgies from their homes via live-streams from Shrewsbury Cathedral and parish churches, and described the efforts to reopen all of the churches of the diocese in the summer as Covid-secure environments as “among the most remarkable achievements in the history of the diocese”.
Of the dedication of the clergy and numerous parish volunteers, Bishop Davies added: “Alongside key workers in our health and essential services, your generosity deserves to be long remembered.”
Bishop Davies’ in announced his intentions in a pastoral letter to the people of the diocese, which was read out at Mass in all churches and chapels over the weekend of Sunday 27thSeptember.
He dedicated a “Year of Prayer” to St Joseph – the foster father of the child Jesus and patron of the Catholic Church – to run from October until the Advent of 2021.
In his letter, Bishop Davies said that he is conscious that times of trial and upheaval can lead people either “to deeper faith and commitment or tragically to fall away”.
He held up St Joseph as an example of a saint who “did all the Lord asked of him” through testing times, and as an encouragement and an inspiration for Catholics today to persevere amid the trials presented by Covid-19 as they strive to fulfil their religious duties and to protect the gift of their faith.
The bishop invited the Catholics of the diocese to look to St Joseph “especially as a guide in the life of prayer, so we may be attentive to what the Lord asks of us”.
Bishop Davies said: “We have been warned to anticipate challenging months ahead and so will ask St Joseph’s help to discern how best we can each respond to the challenges of our time. Pope Francis reminds us how St Joseph responded to his calling ‘to be the protector of Mary, Jesus and the Church…by being constantly attentive to God, open to the signs of God’s presence and attentive to God’s plans not simply his own’.
“In a similar way, says Pope Francis, we are invited to protect with love all that God has given us. This will be the happiest challenge of the year ahead, that will lead us to ‘Go to Joseph’ in order to ask his prayers and learn from his example.
“In the Gospel, St Joseph would be entrusted with the care of Him who is the true Bread come down from Heaven and to guard the Holy Family on earth amid every danger. May St Joseph help us in testing times, to protect the gifts of faith and grace God has entrusted to us. In imitation of St Joseph’s faithfulness, may we do what the Lord asks of us, above all, when we come together in the Mass to do what the Lord Jesus commanded us to do in His memory.”
Picture: The Bishop of Shrewsbury, Mark Davies. (Diocese of Shrewsbury).