Cardinal Dolan consecrated the archdiocese to the foster father of Jesus and the chaste spouse of Mary on the saint’s feast, March 19, after the 7 a.m. Mass he celebrated at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
“O Glorious Patriarch, Patron of the Church...In the presence of Jesus and Mary, we, the clergy, the religious, the lay faithful of this Archdiocese of New York, choose you this day to be our father, guardian and protector,” the cardinal began, in leading the faithful in an Act of Consecration to St. Joseph at the cathedral’s side altar of St. Joseph.
“O Spiritual Father, we hereby consecrate the Archdiocese of New York to you. In faithful imitation of Jesus and Mary, we place all our concerns under your care and protection. To you, after Jesus and Mary, we consecrate our bodies and souls, with all their faculties, our spiritual growth, our homes, our families, all our affairs and undertakings.
“Forsake us not, but adopt us as servants and children of the Holy Family. Watch over us at all times, but especially at the hour of our deaths. Console and strengthen us with the presence of Jesus and Mary so that, with you, we may praise and adore the Most Holy Trinity, forever and ever. Amen.”
The cardinal concluded the celebration by leading the Litany to St. Joseph.
Pope Francis promulgated the Year of St. Joseph, which began Dec. 8 and coincides with the 150th anniversary of St. Joseph’s designation as patron of the universal Church by Blessed Pope Pius IX.
“A Blessed St. Joseph’s Day, everybody,” the cardinal began his homily at the Mass. “He’s so important to us, is he not? And we particularly honor him this year as our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has invited the Church to dedicate this as a Year of St. Joseph, which we’re doing.”
“We need him,” the cardinal said of St. Joseph. “He’s the patron saint of fathers, because he was the foster father of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ; the patron of families, because he was the head of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. He is the patron saint of refugees and immigrants, because he had to take his virgin wife and his foster son and flee from Bethlehem, because of the rage and tyranny of Herod, and bring them safely to Egypt.
“He’s one of the patron saints of a problem pregnancy, because he took Mary as his wife, even though she had conceived not by him. He’s the patron saint of workers, because he himself was a carpenter.
“He is the patron saint of a happy death because he died surrounded by Jesus and Mary, and it’s tough to think of a happier one than that.
“And he is the protector of virgins—the consecrated women religious and consecrated virgins in the Church because he took care of the Blessed Virgin.”
St. Joseph “is protector of the Church because the Church remains God’s family and the Church is the mystical body of Christ…,” the cardinal explained.
The cardinal concluded his homily bye expressing his pleasure for the congregation’s attendance, including by cathedral livestream, the Catholic Channel, Sirius XM 129, and the Catholic Faith Network. He also gave a shout out to the schoolchildren of the archdiocese who had tuned in. He invited all to join him in the Act of Consecration at the conclusion of the Mass.
Priests in parish churches throughout the archdiocese replicated the consecration in union with the cardinal, simultaneously in many cases and according to the parish Mass schedule in others.
The prayers for consecration were also sent to Catholic schools and parish religious education programs for student participation. Additionally, the prayers remain available on the archdiocesan website, archny.org.
Father Dennis A. Nikolić, pastor of St. Joseph parish in Middletown and dean of Orange County, offered the Act of Consecration to St. Joseph for the deanery and the parish at St. Joseph’s Church at noon on March 19, and at 7 p.m. celebrated a bilingual Mass for the parish. The Litany to St. Joseph followed the Act of Consecration.
He said the other deaneries in the archdiocese offered a similar consecration. “It shows our unity with Cardinal Dolan and the entire archdiocese, and our unity with the Holy Father, who has given us this extraordinary year of grace.”
Father Nikolić said his parishioners were pleased. “It was a beautiful liturgical celebration to honor our patron of our parish, but also the patron for this entire year that has been given to us…”
Many who attended the consecration at noon returned to the church for Mass that evening, he said. “Even through the weekend, people were still talking about how touched they were by all of the festivities.”
Father Nikolić reflected on the significance of the consecration amid the coronavirus pandemic. “It’s been a very difficult year for everyone. Life as we were accustomed to living it has changed. For some families, it means that a family member has perhaps died from the virus. For some families, it means some type of hardship that they’re going through.”
Looking toward St. Joseph and the Holy Family, “we recognize the difficulties that they had,” Father Nikolić said. “St. Joseph who received a message from an angel that it was God’s will to take Mary as his wife, and he took Mary into his home. St. Joseph who trusted in the message of the angel that warned him to protect the Holy Family and take the Holy Family to Egypt. St. Joseph who cared for the Christ Child in his early years and worried for the young Christ when He was lost and couldn’t be found, and they found him in the temple.”
The Holy Family, he said, “always show us an example that we trust in God and that we place our faith in Him.”
“St. Joseph is the right saint at this time—as patron of the universal Church and protector of the Holy Family, he serves as a model to live that truth that is passed down to us, and to be centered on Christ, and St. Joseph was,” Father Nikolić said.
“That should be our center, too, to be focused on Christ and to allow St. Joseph and the Blessed Mother to lead us to the Christ Child.”