Happy Feast Day of St. Joseph the Worker

St. Joseph - McGrathPrayer on the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker

We thank you loving God for St. Joseph,

whose example inspires us to walk ever in your footsteps

as faithful servants working in collaboration

to serve the needs of each other and of the Dear Neighbor. Amen.

When we think of May Day celebrations and May Crownings we think of flowers and maypoles and picnics.  But how did May 1st become a day celebrating workers?  Many of us remember the massive parades in the streets of communist countries celebrating laborers.  But did you know May Day actually began in the United States?  On May 1, 1886, more than 300,000 workers in 13,000 businesses across the United States walked off their jobs in the first May Day celebration in history. In Chicago, the center for the 8-hour day demonstrations, 40,000 workers went out on strike.  In 1888 the American Federation of Laborers (the AFL) declared May 1st an annual day of demonstration for workers’ rights at their convention in St. Louis.  The rise of communism in Europe during the early 20th century popularized May 1st as a day to celebrate workers’ rights.

In response to celebrations in atheistic communist countries, on May 1, 1955, Pope Pius XII granted a public audience to the Catholic Association of Italian Workers in Saint Peter’s Square. They were their promise of loyalty to the social doctrine of the Church. Pius XII declared the liturgical feast of May 1st in honor of Saint Joseph the Worker. He assured his audience and all working people, “You have beside you a shepherd, a defender and a father” in Saint Joseph, the carpenter.

Continuing to spread the message of the Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers within the context of our faith, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote in 2007 and again in 2011:

The economy must serve people, not the other way around. Work is more than a way to make a living; it is a form of continuing participation in God’s creation. Employers contribute to the common good through the services or products they provide and by creating jobs that uphold the dignity and rights of workers—to productive work, to decent and just wages, to adequate benefits and security in their old age, to the choice of whether to organize and join unions, to the opportunity for legal status for immigrant workers, to private property, and to economic initiative. Workers also have responsibilities—to provide a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay, to treat employers and co-workers with respect, and to carry out their work in ways that contribute to the common good. Workers, employers, and unions should not only advance their own interests, but also work together to advance economic justice and the well-being of all.  from Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers

USCCB complete statement & document available at: http://www.usccb.org/faithfulcitizenship/FCStatement.pdf

Happy Feast Day!

Mary Kay


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