Tony Rossi, Director of Communications                                        

August 22, 2022

Befriending St. Joseph 

            “In the greatest story ever told, he just has a couple of walk-ons, and he doesn’t even have any

lines. So, he wasn’t someone that I paid a lot of attention to.” So says Deacon Greg Kandra about his

early impressions of St. Joseph, the quietest member of the Holy Family. But over time, the deacon’s

views changed. He now finds Jesus’s earthly father to be the most relatable member of the Holy Family,

and he shares his views in the new book “Befriending St. Joseph: Finding Faith, Hope, and Courage in

the Seven Sorrows Devotion.”  

            During a “Christopher Closeup” interview, Deacon Greg credited Monsignor Joseph Funaro, the pastor for whom he worked at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs church in Queens, New York, with increasing his understanding of St. Joseph. Msgr. Funaro made the saint for whom he was named a part of parish life through celebrations of his feast day and novenas. “Whenever he preached about him,” said Deacon Greg, “he liked to make the point that St. Joseph was not perfect. And he’s the one member of the Holy Family who is not sinless. He was flawed, and he had problems, and he is very much like the rest of us… So, it helps to look at him as a humble, ordinary, flawed, challenged human being on this remarkable journey.”  

            For St. Joseph, that journey often included a loss of control. Since people nowadays like to be in control of everything, but very rarely are, Deacon Greg finds a lesson in this aspect of St. Joseph’s life as well. He said, “Joseph is a reminder that sometimes the best thing to do is to let go and let God, and to trust that He’s taking you where He wants you to go. You think of all the different moments in Joseph’s life where things didn’t go the way he had probably planned. I’m sure he imagined this tranquil, happy life, living with Mary in Nazareth with his little carpenter shop and living happily ever after. He had no idea how God was going to enter his story. He was going to have to go to Bethlehem, and then to Egypt, then back to Nazareth…God kept throwing monkey wrenches into his life. Instead of fighting it…he completely trusted in God [with] tremendous leaps of faith again and again. It gives me a lot of hope and inspiration to think about that.” 

            Regarding the “Seven Sorrows Devotion,” Deacon Greg admits that it’s not a prayer tradition many people are familiar with, even though it’s been around for a long time. He explained, “The roots of it are several hundred years old. There were a couple of Franciscans who were in a shipwreck. While they were clinging to the wreckage and praying to be saved, they prayed to St. Joseph. [He] appeared to them and helped them to safety. He said, ‘Pray the Our Father and the Hail Mary and meditate on seven moments of my life, and this will be the grace that you need.’ So, there’s seven key moments of Joseph’s life. They roughly parallel the seven sorrows of Mary, which more people, I think, know, and the times that he felt great sorrow and pain and anxiety, but also found through that a sense of joy and possibility and hope. It’s a way for us to look at those moments in his life – and those similar moments in our own lives – and also find consolation and hope.”