Skip to content

We ask you, humbly: don't scroll away.

Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you.

Help Now >

St. Joseph the Worker: Model for Men, Young and Old

One of the current laments of media commentators is the number of "able-bodied young men" who have "dropped-out" of the workforce. A recent survey revealed that several million young men who were employed have stopped working altogether and presumably, are being financially supported by their parents, spouses or other immediate family members.


By Fr. David P. Begany, SSJ
4/29/2024 (3 weeks ago)

Published in Christian Saints & Heroes

Keywords: St. Joseph, worker, men, employment, labor

In addition, recent high school and college graduates are also delaying the start of their careers as they enjoy the comfort of the familiar --- their parents' homes. Some of this is understandable, especially among very young men who may need encouragement and guidance to enter the workforce and eventually separate from their parents to find a place of their own. Among older male workers who've quit their jobs, it is less understandable, though it requires the same level of compassion on the part of family and friends.

The reasons for "dropping-out" of the workforce could be many: Mistreatment by superiors or co-workers; inability to secure a job with a good income; job dissatisfaction, or perhaps a desire to find one's true calling in life.  Whatever the cause, it is disconcerting not only to those who are not working and their families, but to society as a whole. A city, town, or country's economic, political, and social stability rests not only on the religious belief and values of its citizens, but on the "gainful work" that everyone does. 

In other words, employment provides financial stability to both the worker and the town or city he lives in; it also provides a sense of accomplishment for the man who works, in addition to confidence that he can competently realize other goals in life such as marrying and raising a family, pursue additional education, or even enter public service.

One person who can assist young and older men in finding meaning, value, and motivation for work is someone who has helped both men and women for centuries. It is St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus Christ and husband of Mary.

On May 1, we celebrate the Feast Day of St. Joseph the Worker. Why do we this? 

In 1955, Pope Pius XII instituted this Feast Day as a counterbalance to the Communist Party's May 1 celebration of "International Workers Day." The party's celebration was meant to unify workers as "the oppressed" in opposition to company management as "the oppressors." In other words, Communism wanted to divide all of those who work into two disparate groups that were constantly battling each other. Instead of this scenario, Pope Pius XII wanted to emphasize the dignity of all workers, whether they were building physical objects or designing and managing projects in offices. In other words, he wanted everyone to realize that all work can glorify God and serve his purposes, including uniting those who work in the celebration of what they have achieved together. 

Since the Middle Ages, St. Joseph was viewed as a humble man, a hard worker, and a family provider. He faced the same challenges as all men: Doubts about his choices in life, for example, when he found out that his fiancée was pregnant; doubts about whether he could provide for the financial needs of his family, when they had to emigrate from Israel to Egypt; and doubts about his role as father, when Jesus, the son of Mary, disappeared during a trip from Jerusalem to their home in Nazareth. For St. Joseph, the answers and encouragement came from God in a dream - to take Mary as his wife; to trust in God and his own skills as a carpenter in Egypt to provide for his family; and finally, in the words of Jesus in the Temple "who was about his Father's business" but became obedient to Joseph and Mary.

The answers that Joseph found to his personal dilemmas or existential crises are the same that apply to all men: Turn to God in prayer and then trust in the good decisions you make. St. Joseph shows men the way to live life in the simplicity, harmony and joy they seek. 

By accepting work as both a gift and challenge from God, men can imitate St. Joseph in humility and trust in both God and themselves to live a life of dedication to God and their families, through the humble, yet necessary use of their talents in the endeavor of work. 

Fr. David P. Begany, SSJ, is a Pastoral Associate of Priests for Life and pastor of Holy Family Catholic Church in Baytown, Texas.

Join the Movement
When you sign up below, you don't just join an email list - you're joining an entire movement for Free world class Catholic education.

Saint of the Day logo
Prayer of the Day logo

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2024 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2024 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.

Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.