Monthly Archives: April 2024

St. Joseph the Workman

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, as you know, May 1st is the Feast of St. Joseph the Workman. We turn to him for his example and intercession in the context of this great month. 

The beautiful month of May honors, in splendid ways, humanity’s goodness and virtue. Significantly, we express our esteem for mothers. First Holy Communion and graduations are also milestones celebrated with sacred pomp and procession in May.

This May, we have the particular grace of welcoming a new bishop to the Diocese of La Crosse. I will celebrate my final Mass as your Bishop on Pentecost. With gratitude and joy, I will remain in service to you and our diocese as Bishop Emeritus. When I reflect on the past 14 years, the memories of our farmers at so many Rural Life Masses, my brother priests teaching, sanctifying and connecting their flock with Jesus, the hundreds of holy Catholic School teachers and their joyous wards, and so many more wash over me. I clearly see such blessings bestowed by the hand of God. We have accomplished much together in the vineyard, and I am so grateful. 

At the installation Mass on May 20th, 2024, just days away, we will welcome the 11th Bishop of the Diocese of La Crosse, Bishop Gerard Battersby. He arrives with a wealth of experience as an Auxiliary Bishop in the Archdiocese of Detroit, having been in that role since 2017. We await his arrival with eager anticipation. The day of installation was appropriately and properly selected because it is the feast of Mary, Mother of the Church. 

For us, as Catholics, the highest on the list of honorees throughout the month of May is our Blessed Mother, Mary. Our songs to her beauty and grace rise naturally from our hearts. We praise God that she accepted being overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and becoming the Mother of God.

We also know that she could not do the work of raising God’s Son alone. Jesus needed a household, a provider and a fatherly guide. So, the very first day of May is set on our calendar to mark St. Joseph, the man chosen to be the earthly father of God’s Son. Indeed, we look to St. Joseph under a specific title, St. Joseph the Workman, the patron and namesake of our cathedral. 

In 1955, Pope Pius XII named May 1st, a day set aside in many nations to honor the laborer, the patronal feast day for St. Joseph the Workman. As a technician and carpenter, Joseph fashioned useful objects from the material of God’s creation. His skills did not make him a wealthy man, but his hard work and courageous obedience provided what the Holy Family needed to accomplish the will of the Eternal Father.

Undoubtedly, Jesus learned from Joseph’s faith, obedience and quiet diligence. People would say of Jesus once he began to teach and perform miracles, “Is He not the carpenter’s son?” (Mt 13:55). Although the question revealed the crowd’s lack of faith, it must have also stirred in Jesus a marvelous sense of the union He cherished with Joseph.

Every time we see the lily and carpenter’s square carved into the stone adorning our cathedral building, we are reminded of that connection. The lily speaks to Joseph’s purity and virtue in safeguarding his beloved wife’s perpetual virginity. The carpenter’s square makes visible his courage and fortitude in protecting and providing for the Son of God.

So, let us seek the power of St. Joseph’s prayers. May he strengthen us to imitate his chastity and encourage us in our labors of charity. May God watch over us and take care of us in the Diocese of La Crosse during all the years to come.

St. Joseph the Workman. Pray for us. Amen.

I remain yours, forever, in the service of Jesus and Mary, 

Bishop William Patrick Callahan

Divine Mercy

Divine Mercy greetings to you, my brothers and sisters!

The feast of Divine Mercy was established on April 30, 2000, by Pope John Paul II. The occasion was the beatification of St. Faustina Kowalska, the Polish nun who received visions and words from Jesus in the 1920s and 1930s. In short, Jesus’ message to St. Faustina is that mercy and peace are available to all through the blood and water streaming from his open heart.

But April 30, 2000, was not only the canonization of St. Faustina and the inauguration of Divine Mercy Sunday, it was also—like today—the Second Sunday of Easter. Divine Mercy, then, has an essential connection to the Easter Mystery. Like a musical octave, where a particular note is elevated eight notes above it, the Octave of Easter takes the Easter Mystery as its base and elevates, amplifies, and complements it. Christ’s mercy, celebrated on this day, thus has its source in his opened heart preceding his resurrection. Consider how on this day, the Octave of Easter, we hear how Jesus invites Thomas the Apostle to “bring your hand and put it into my side” (John 20:27). The fount of mercy we enjoy on this day draws us back to the opened heart of Jesus and the heart of the Easter Mystery.

This glorious day bears yet another name, one further complementing its position as “Second Sunday of Easter” or “Divine Mercy Sunday.” Many Masses during the liturgical year are named after the first words of their entrance antiphon. Back on the Fourth Sunday of Lent, for example, the Church celebrated Laetare Sunday, or “Rejoice” Sunday, after the first words of the entrance antiphon, “Rejoice, Jerusalem, and all who love her” (see Isaiah 66:10). On this day, the Church celebrates Quasimodo Sunday, after the text, “Like [quasimodo] newborn infants, you must long for the pure, spiritual milk, that in him you may grow to salvation, alleluia” (1 Peter 2:2). (This also explains the name of Notre Dame’s “Hunchback,” who was found on the steps of Paris’s great cathedral on this day.)

What we have, then, on this Solemnity are several interrelated and marvelous truths: the Octave of the Easter Mystery, which is a special occasion to receive divine mercy, will restore us to new life once again.

So many of the Church’s texts speak about our potential for new life in Christ. “On this [Easter] day is created the true man, the man made in the image and likeness of God. For this day the Lord has made is the beginning of this new world” (St. Gregory of Nyssa, Office of Readings on Monday of the Fifth Week of Easter).

As we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday, then, let us keep before our minds the new life, the new mercy, and the new peace offered to us by Jesus risen from the dead. Such was his whole purpose in coming to save us: “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).

Bishop William Patrick Callahan