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The Diocesan observance of the Year of St. Joseph began in earnest on March 19 when Bishop Alberto Rojas marked the Feast Day with a St. Joseph Family Mass during which he consecrated the Diocese to Jesus’ earthly dad.

“I feel like he’s my closest father,” admitted Bishop Rojas, who explained during his homily that his devotion to Joseph grew significantly after he was ordained a bishop. “He is a model of being flexible and doing God’s will instead of our own.”

Bishop Rojas then related the story of Joseph’s response to Mary’s pregnancy and posed a question to the men in attendance: “Imagine it’s three weeks before your wedding and you find out your [fiancée] is pregnant and you had nothing to do with it. What would you have done?”

Joseph refused to publicly condemn Mary and soon became aware of God’s plan for he and his wife-to-be, and the son she would bring into the world for the salvation of humankind. Bishop Rojas noted that Joseph was open to God’s plan for his life instead of his own plan.

The evening Mass, coordinated by the Diocesan Office of Marriage and Family Life, was held outdoors at Our Lady of the Rosary Cathedral in San Bernardino and livestreamed on the diocesan YouTube channel. About 300 people attended in person and, at press time, more than 2,300 people had viewed it online.

The Diocesan Office of Hispanic Affairs helped to set the tone for the opening Mass with a Novena leading up to the Feast of St. Joseph. Director Petra Alexander facilitated a nightly reflection on St. Joseph through Zoom and on Facebook.

“It was a new devotion to so many people,” said Diocesan Vice Chancellor Maria Echeverria of the Novena. “Each presenter brought out a side of St. Joseph, a value of family life that resonated with our people.”

The St. Joseph Mass was the unofficial kick-off to a series of yearlong activities in the Diocese to celebrate the Year of St. Joseph. At the close of the Mass Deacon Michael Jelley announced a Virtual Pilgrimage with St. Joseph that is being offered by the Diaconate Community. The Pilgrimage will feature a Mass and prayer service in each vicariate of the Diocese to celebrate fathers and stepfathers, single parents, families and priests. These liturgies will all be livestreamed on the Diocesan YouTube channel as in-person attendance will be limited due to COVID-19. The first Mass was held in the Hemet Vicariate at St. Catherine of Alexandria in Temecula on March 31 (a full schedule of the Masses is included at right).

Those who participate in at least one of the Virtual Pilgrimages can receive a Plenary Indulgence, which is a remission of punishment for a sin. In addition to attending one pilgrimage, participants must also do the following to receive a plenary indulgence.

• Make a profession of faith (either the Apostles’ or Nicene Creed).

• Pray for the Pope’s intentions and the Pope, himself.

• Meditate on the role Saint Joseph played in the life of Jesus; and the role of all fathers, stepfathers and priests today; while receiving Communion during a period; either 20 days before or after your virtual visit to a pilgrimage church.

• Participate in the Sacrament of Penance at your own parish during a period either 20 days before; or after your virtual visit to a pilgrimage church (please follow the Covid-19 rules when you come to the church for the sacrament of penance).

A special website has been created for the Year of St. Joseph in the Diocese that includes ongoing activities associated with the Year along with prayer and scripture resources, music and art. It can be found at https://sites.google.com/view/yearofstjoseph-dsb.