2021 offers Church many reasons to celebrate

Pope Francis has declared a Year of St. Joseph and a special focus on the family in 2021. (File Photo by Vatican Media - CNA)

By Agnieszka Ruck, The B.C. Catholic 

[Vancouver – Canadian Catholiic News] – If 2020 was the year of COVID, it looks like there’s a smorgasbord of options for defining 2021, including several of special appeal to Catholics.

Before the new year began, Pope Francis had already revealed his hopes for the Church in 2021 by calling for a Year of St. Joseph, running to Dec. 8, 2021, to draw the Church’s attention to St. Joseph’s “father’s heart.”

Pope Francis made the announcement exactly 150 years after Blessed Pius IX proclaimed St. Joseph the patron of the Catholic Church. He is also one of the patron saints of Canada.
“The greatness of Saint Joseph is that he was the spouse of Mary and the father of Jesus. In this way, he placed himself, in the words of Saint John Chrysostom, ‘at the service of the entire plan of salvation,’” Pope Francis wrote in an apostolic letter.

“In every situation, Joseph declared his own ‘fiat,’ like those of Mary at the Annunciation and Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane,”

Only 19 days later, Pope Francis proclaimed another anniversary would be commemorated with another special “year,” one dedicated to the family to mark the fifth anniversary of his apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia.

“This special year will be an opportunity to deepen further the content of the document Amoris laetitia,” the Holy Father said Dec. 27. “Let us entrust this journey, with families all over the world, to the Holy Family of Nazareth, in particular to St. Joseph, the devoted spouse and father.”

Amoris laetitia, “The Joy of Love,” was signed in 2016 and focuses on challenges to marriage and family life. The Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life said resources will be made available for families, parishes, dioceses, movements, and associations to “devote themselves enthusiastically to the pastoral care of the family by implementing Amoris laetitia.”

The Year of the Family will run March 19, 2021, to June 26, 2022. More details and resources are available at amorislaetitia.va.

The years of St. Joseph and the Family are not the only significant celebrations happening in the Church this year. In November, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Korea launched a jubilee year to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of St. Andrew Kim Tae-gon, the first Korean priest and a martyr.

The special years for St. Joseph and St. Andrew Kim both come with plenary indulgences attached to them.

In the case of St. Joseph, indulgences can be received under the usual conditions by faithful who meditate for at least 30 minutes on the Lord’s Prayer, take part in a spiritual retreat that includes a meditation on St. Joseph, or perform a spiritual or corporal work of mercy.

In the case of St. Andrew Kim, a plenary indulgence can be obtained by those who visit a designated sanctuary or shrine or meditating in reverence before a relic of the saint. In the Archdiocese of Vancouver, Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB, has designated St. Andrew Kim Parish in Surrey as an appropriate sanctuary for celebrations, which run to Nov. 27, 2021.

Meanwhile, the Church in the Philippines is celebrating 500 years since Christianity was introduced to the nation in 1521.

Vatican News reported that Catholics in the Philippines have been preparing for the anniversary for nine years. Bishop Broderick Pabillo, auxiliary bishop of Manila, said the celebration “is not a reminder of how we were colonized, but of how Filipinos embraced Catholicism.” An estimated 80 per cent of Filipinos are Catholic.

Deacon Greg Barcelon, head of Filipino ministry in the Archdiocese of Vancouver, sees the anniversary as a cause for joy and said various celebrations are in the works.

“The reception of the faith from the colonizers who came to the Philippines in 1521 was not something that immediately brought anything really worthwhile for the locals. If at all, it was seen as an imposition of a foreign culture on the land,” he told The B.C. Catholic.

“Little did we know that wrapped within something that looked dark was the gift of faith the locals eventually embraced and passed on from one generation to the next.”