St. Joseph icon a reminder of God's work

The jubilee icon of St. Joseph the Worker, shown here at Sacred Heart Church in Edson, reminds us to be open to God working in our lives.

WCR PHOTO | CHRIS MILLER

The jubilee icon of St. Joseph the Worker, shown here at Sacred Heart Church in Edson, reminds us to be open to God working in our lives.

October 21, 2013
CHRIS MILLER
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

The jubilee icon of St. Joseph the Worker is now six months into its pilgrimage which will take it to every parish in the Edmonton Archdiocese before it comes home to rest a year from now.

When the icon started its archdiocesan-wide trek in May, Archbishop Richard Smith said it should be a reminder about staying open to the working of God in our lives.

The icon should also be an invitation to trust in what God is doing as St. Joseph did, the archbishop said.

Its most recent stop was at St. Andrew's Parish, Edmonton, from Oct. 4-11. Teachings related to St. Joseph frequently focus on his patience, persistence and hard work - exactly the sort of qualities that Father Ayodele Ayeni focused on during the icon's stopover.

"We just have to implement the icon into our activities as it is given to us," said Ayeni.

Ayeni said two sample liturgies were provided for the parish to choose from to guide veneration of the icon once it was set up in the church. One is to be used when a regular Mass is celebrated. The other is for various celebrations or when a deacon is present.

As well, prayer cards were provided for distribution at weekend Masses when the icon was present.

"Here we did not have the ideal situation because there was no pastor here," said Ayeni, who only recently made the transition to St. Andrew's.

Ayeni noted that the transferring of the icon has been an opportunity for Catholics in neighbouring parishes to meet and pray with new friends.

With some foresight, some volunteers agree to meet at a halfway point, perhaps share a meal and celebrate together before sending the icon to its next parish.

OUTLYING AREAS

The icon visited parishes outside the Edmonton area over the summer, such as Grand Cache, Hinton, Edson, Drayton Valley and Onoway.

Next spring and summer, it will make its way to other outlying areas.

As well, it has been to Edmonton City Hall, young adult retreats, St. Joseph's College and even a fun run. It also journeyed to special events, including One Rock, a youth music festival in Cochrane, and the Skaro Pilgrimage.

Since Sept. 6 the icon has been back in Edmonton, making weeklong stops in the city parishes - Holy Rosary, St. Joachim and St. Anne, St. Boniface, Mary Help of Christians Parish and Our Lady of Guadalupe parishes.

The large, heavy icon (59 inches high by 43 inches wide) requires hard work from volunteers. Either a truck or SUV is required to transport the icon. At least four people are needed to move it.

Friday is the transfer day between parishes to ensure that the icon and historic display are ready for weekend Masses in the new location.

The Hungarian parish, St. Emeric, received the icon Oct. 11, and it planned to incorporate the icon into Sunday Mass.

"We got a special program from the archdiocese, and that's what we follow. There are some prayers to welcome the icon," said Father Matthias Lugowski.

Andre Prevost, a respected iconographer from Vancouver, was commissioned to write the new icon of the archdiocese's patron saint.

The icon, as Prevost said, is not just an image to be looked upon, but is aimed at connecting with the viewer, drawing him or her directly to St. Joseph and, through the icon, into God's saving grace.

Accompanying the icon along its journey is the Jubilee 100 historical display, A Wonderful Transformation. The display is a series of doubled-sided panels that explains the archdiocese's rich history.

EARLY FAITH

Each panel shows the early faith and hard work of religious congregations of women and men to establish churches, hospitals, schools, orphanages and seniors homes.

The icon's next stops include St. Edmund Parish (Oct. 18-25), St. Charles Parish (Oct. 25-Nov. 1), and St. Dominic Savio (Nov. 1-8).

The icon continues travelling until Nov. 21, 2014 at which time it will be permanently installed at St. Joseph's Basilica in downtown Edmonton.