St. Joseph is no stranger to Carmel! He is the protector of our order.
As our holy mother St. Teresa of Avila once wrote: “I took for my patron and Lord the glorious St. Joseph. … I cannot call to mind that I have ever asked him at any time for anything he has not granted. I am filled with amazement when I consider the great favors God has given me through this blessed saint.”
Realizing the powerful intercession and holiness of St. Joseph, St. Teresa named her first foundation after this great and humble saint. Since then, countless numbers of the Discalced Carmelite monasteries around the world have been named after St. Joseph.
Not only did St. Teresa experience the great intercession of St. Joseph in her lifetime, but we, the Carmelites of Salt Lake City, have known St. Joseph to be responsible for many miracles in our time for our Carmel.
One beautiful story has been passed down from our humble beginnings in 1952 when our five nuns came to establish a monastery in Salt Lake City. Our first home was a small house in the downtown area. The nuns arrived Dec. 8; the first winter was cold and the furnace broke down. Bishop Duane G. Hunt told us he would send a technician over to repair the furnace as soon as he could.
It happened to be the weekend, and no one else knew about our broken-down furnace. The next day an older man showed up at our house, saying he was here to fix our furnace. Without another word, he went to work.
Sometime later, when our extern sister went to check, the older man had disappeared; no one saw him walk out of the house, nor did anyone know how he got out, and the furnace was running perfectly.
We didn’t think anything of it but simply enjoyed the warm air produced by a working furnace. Then came Monday. A man rang the doorbell, and introduced himself as a furnace technician sent by the bishop.
Our community was shocked, overwhelmed, in tears. We knew immediately that the older man who had fixed our furnace and disappeared without a word had to have been St. Joseph. We gave thanks to God for sending us St. Joseph to keep us warm during those cold winter days.
After we moved to Holladay, Utah, we struggled to survive. Each parish in the diocese agreed to take a month to bring us groceries. Nine parishes volunteered, which left us three months during the summer without a steady supply of food.
Year after year only during those three months, an older man would show up at our kitchen door with a truckload of foodstuffs. As soon as the parishes resumed their schedule in the fall, that old man would disappear. He never said his name. Once again, we knew it was St. Joseph.
Over the years, before making any important decision, we have always reached out to St. Joseph invoking his help, from purchasing the piece of land in Holladay to starting to build the monastery. We named our novitiate house “St. Joseph.”
He has never failed to be present to us in our needs, whether in the person of volunteers/workers at our monastery or in answering our prayers for financial assistance.
Not only does our father St. Joseph help us in our material needs, but he also has been a spiritual pillar for many of our nuns. Along with the church, we celebrate this Year of St. Joseph with much devotion. As a community we recite the litany of St. Joseph every Wednesday, and offer a prayer to St. Joseph every day.
In Carmel, we hold St. Joseph, spouse of our Blessed Mother and foster father of Jesus, in the highest honor, but since he is a quiet, humble man, we don’t think he would want us to praise him more. We are sure he would much prefer that we follow his good example to live a faithful, prayerful, hidden life to please his son, Jesus Christ.
Just as he took care of the Holy Family many years ago, St. Joseph will continue to take care of the temporal and spiritual needs of his children here on earth; he will continue to intercede for us before our Lord.
St. Joseph, pray for us.