More than 200 middle school and high school students participated in St. Joseph’s Day for Vocations on the Feast of St. Joseph at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie March 19.
“This is your home, and please come visit us again,” said Auxiliary Bishop James Massa, the seminary’s rector, at Mass.
Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Espaillat, who was ordained to the episcopacy March 1 and is a 2003 graduate of St. Joseph’s Seminary, celebrated Mass in the seminary chapel for the first time as a bishop.
“What an honor, what a privilege to be able to be here on this day to celebrate this Mass with all of you,” Bishop Espaillat said.
In his homily, Bishop Espaillat spoke of twice reading the “Consecration to St. Joseph” by Father Donald Calloway, M.I.C., when Pope Francis declared 2021 the Year of St. Joseph.
“It took me a second try (to fully understand it),” he said. “It was so worth it. It was so good because in it I learned a lot, most especially about the relationships between Joseph the patriarch and St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus. I didn’t know the correlation between them.”
Bishop Espaillat spoke about three correlations of Joseph the patriarch and St. Joseph—protector, provider and patrimony.
“This is really important. This is not fiction. This is reality,” Bishop Espaillat stressed to the young men.
“The homily was very interesting with how he was talking about the similarities between Joseph and St. Joseph, and how we all need to go out to protect the Church and be leaders and not just wait for everyone else to do something,” Ryan Hanrahan, a 16-year-old junior at John F. Kennedy Catholic Preparatory School in Somers, told CNY.
Steven Carino, a 15-year-old altar server at St. Rita’s parish in the Bronx, added, “We should be like St. Joseph–protectors and providers for other people.”
As Bishop Espaillat exited the chapel after Mass, he blessed holy water and rosaries distributed to the visitors before they had pictures taken with himBishop Espaillat. The guests closed out the day with lunch and rock climbing.
Before Mass, the students had their first interactions with seminarians at breakfast and morning prayer before the seminarians led workshops in four dimensions of priestly formation—human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral. In one, the students prepared care kits, and wrote and signed a prayer of St. Joseph to be given to the homeless.
Father George Sears, archdiocesan director of vocations, was thrilled with the turnout and said the day’s goals were for students to spend time with the seminarians, understand they are beloved sons of God who desires good things for them, include God in whatever their life’s vocation may be and learn more about St. Joseph on his feast day.
“They could learn from St. Joseph what it means to be a man, someone who gives his life in service, who’s not afraid of hard work and challenges, and is not afraid of making commitments for love of God, love of others,” he said.
Hanrahan used the day as an opportunity to see his older brother, Chris, a first-year seminarian, as he learned about seminarian life. He said his brother is enjoying life as a seminarian.
“I thought it was very beautiful, the chapel and the seminary,” he said. “It was very interesting what they go through every day.”
Carino, who is considering a vocation to the priesthood, also enjoyed his visit with the seminarians.
“They were really nice and they just told us what they thought about God and what made them come here.”