St. Joseph's Oratory in Montreal, Canada, is in the midst of its annual novena to its patron, leading up to his feast day on March 19. Renowned preacher, Fr. Henri de Longchamp, O.P., is leading this year’s novena in celebration of the husband of Mary and the foster-father of Jesus. The theme is: With Joseph, On the Way to Blessed Joy.
The novena began on March 10 with Longchamp preaching on the topic of faith. The themes for the subsequent nights are as follows: March 11 – Holiness, March 12 – Thankfulness, March 13 – Care for Others, March 14 – Life, March 15 – Fidelity, March 16 – Honesty, March 17 – Truth, and March 18 – Purity and Generosity.
"The novena preparing for the Feast of Saint Joseph and, of course, the feast day itself on March 19 is a privileged moment at Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal," said Fr. Claude Grou, C.S.C., the Rector of St. Joseph's Oratory. "This tradition of the novena goes back to the time of Saint Brother André, since the first novena took place in 1921 and it has been repeated, every year, since that time.
"Despite the lessened religious observance in Quebec for some years now, we note with joy the fervor of these thousands of pilgrims who still come these days to express their faith and their trust in Saint Joseph and Saint Brother André."
After the conclusion of the novena, on March 19, the Solemnity of St. Joseph, the Oratory will hold four solemn Masses to mark the occasion. These Masses are in addition to the normal slate of daily Masses at the Oratory. The presiders for those Masses are the Most Rev. Christian Lépine, Archbishop of Montréal; the Most Rev. Gaétan Proulx, O.S.M. the Auxiliary Bishop of Québec; the Most Rev. Raymond Poisson, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of Saint-Jérôme; and the Most Rev. Thomas Dowd, Auxiliary Bishop of Montréal.
Founded by St. André Bessette, the first canonized saint of the Congregation of Holy Cross, the oratory is the largest shrine to St. Joseph in the world. It welcomes over 2 million pilgrims each year, including a large influx of the faithful during these days of novena to St. Joseph. St. André had a deep devotion to St. Joseph, who is the patron of the Brothers of Holy Cross. He would often tell his visitors to “go to Joseph” to have their prayers answered.
"Saint Joseph’s Oratory welcomes people coming from all over the world. In our daily Novena preparing for the feast of Saint Joseph on 19th March, we observe the real representation of the universal Church," said Fr. Jomon Kalladanthiyil, C.S.C., the Director of Pastoral Affairs at St. Joseph's Oratory. "People belonging to various ethnic backgrounds, cultures and languages come to pray together. Though most of our celebrations are in French, yet as Christians we pray together, united in one spirit. The Holy Cross Community at the Oratory is becoming more and more international. Our diversity brings us richness in welcoming pilgrims coming from all over the world. May Saint Joseph intercede for us and guide us as he guided Saint Brother André although his life."
The stained glass image of St. Joseph comes from a window in the Oratory done by artist Marius Plamondon.