This year’s theme for the Respect Life program is “St. Joseph, defender of life,” which is fitting as we celebrate the Year of St. Joseph. In the Gospels, we don’t see Joseph as the central person in the events told; however, we do see how he works rather selflessly, trusting in God’s divine providence as he cared for and protected Jesus and Mary. One example of this is when he was told in a dream to “not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:20). Joseph, following God’s instruction, protected Mary and Jesus from scandal and derision.

May we follow Joseph’s example when we encounter a mom facing a challenging pregnancy. May we also welcome her without judgment, into our parishes and communities by supporting her and helping her connect to the available financial, medical, housing, food and especially pregnancy resources in the community. May we strive to support her emotionally and spiritually during her journey through motherhood.

Let us also support our local pregnancy care centers, which provide many valuable items and opportunities to help moms raise their children. Many of our pregnancy resource centers throughout the Diocese of Superior provide new mothers with basic needs for their children, while providing wonderful learning opportunities to build healthier relationships and parenting skills. We can volunteer at the centers, work within our parishes to help support pregnancy care centers with donations or various item collections throughout the year, baby bottle campaigns, and our prayers.

Other ways we can defend and care for life are in our families and communities. In our families, we can quietly help others having difficulty, accomplishing a task or completing a project. This could mean caring for someone who is feeling tired or ill, doing daily chores, or helping with a home improvement project. In schools, the workplace, or community we can be inclusive of others and together fulfill a special purpose, perhaps a classroom project, community service project, or adopt an agency that cares for people in need.

The important thing is that, like Joseph, we care for and defend the lives of others with the gifts that God has given us. These may look different depending on our own unique gifts and talents and those of the people in our community.

“Each of us can discover in Joseph – the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence – an intercessor, a support and a guide in times of trouble. St. Joseph reminds us that those who appear hidden or in the shadows can play an incomparable role in the history of salvation” (“Patris Corde”).

If you would like to learn more about St. Joseph and all the ways he defends life, please read “Patris Corde,” an apostolic letter from Pope Francis, or consider the “Consecration to St. Joseph” by Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC.

Bonita Thom is the director of the Office of Respect Life.