St. Joseph is depicted in his work as a carpenter in one of 10 stained glass windows at St. Joseph Church in Omaha. The 10 windows tell the story of St. Joseph and his life with the Holy Family. MIKE MAY/STAFF


The carpenter of Nazareth guides, intercedes for workers today

Holy Scripture says almost nothing about the early life of Jesus growing up in the Nazareth home of the Holy Family.

But it is generally assumed that he would have learned the carpenter’s trade from his earthly father, St. Joseph, who, while plying his skills, would have lovingly taught a young Jesus the fine points of carpentry.

That image of St. Joseph, who was declared by the Church as the patron of workers in 1955, speaks to the inherent dignity of work as the Church celebrates the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker May 1.

Through his intercession, countless people over the years have found help in finding a job, changing careers and meeting the demands of their daily work.

For Jami Biodrowski, a member of both Sacred Heart Parish in Omaha and St. John the Baptist Parish in Fort Calhoun, St. Joseph’s intercession was timely and undeniable as she sought a career change several years ago.

While she and her husband worked as family teachers at Boys Town in Omaha, the couple realized the job was not the right fit for their family, she said. As she searched for work in her previous field as a camp director, Biodrowski prayed the Novena to St. Joseph.

“I got my job offer (with Easter Seals of Nebraska) on the last day of the St. Joseph novena. He’s been with me every step of the way since then,” she said. “St. Joseph is truly my man.”

Since starting that job, Biodrowski has frequently prayed to St. Joseph for help in carrying out her duties or making important decisions. “I felt like, every time I asked, he’d always answer, and it was very quick,” she said.

And for one recent convert to the Catholic faith, St. Joseph has taken on special meaning in his career and personal life.

Adam Swallow, who entered the Catholic Church during this year’s Easter Vigil at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Omaha, became a carpenter himself about a year ago.

“I always had a passion for building stuff, and I had an opportunity with my soon-to-be brother-in-law,” working on custom cabinetry, said Swallow, who is engaged to be married
May 1.

He also chose Joseph as his confirmation name, thanks to discussions with a future nephew who taught him about St. Joseph as the patron saint of workers, and feels blessed that he and fiancée, Kaely Piller, will be married on May 1, during the year of St. Joseph.

Swallow now looks to the carpenter from Nazareth as an example of glorifying God in one’s work, and as a model of patience and understanding in his future role as a father.

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