Feast of St. Joseph the Worker celebrated with the Blessing of Tools

On May 1, the day the Church commemorates the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, parishioners gathered in the garden outside the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland to have the tools of their various trades blessed.

“We recognize the hard work that we all do, and we want to give that to God,” said Father Kevin Upham, a parochial vicar of the Portland Peninsula & Island Parishes, who led the prayer service.  “We’ll be better off if we give every aspect of our lives, including work, to God.”

During the prayer service, Father Upham offered a blessing, asking God to “protect your servants, who stand before you devout and faithful, bearing the tools of their trade. Grant that their hard work may contribute to the perfecting of your creation and provide a decent life for themselves and their families. Help them to strive for a better society and to praise and glorify your holy name always.”

Father Upham then sprinkled holy water on the tools people had placed on the ground or held in their hands. They included everything from a chainsaw and a spade to scissors and a spatula.

Those gathered also joined in praying the Our Father and the Litany of St. Joseph, and they listened to readings from Scripture, which were shared by Father Upham and Father Seamus Griesbach, rector of the cathedral and pastor of the Portland Peninsula & Island Parishes.

This was the second annual Blessing of the Tools ceremony. It was first held in 2021 when the universal Catholic Church was celebrating the Year of St. Joseph. Father Upham said they received a lot of positive feedback so decided to make it an annual event, recognizing what an important role work plays in people’s lives.

“Work is such a big part of our lives. Especially as Americans, we value work. We toil, as the prayer says, but there is ultimately a reward in that, so it’s very important. It gives us a sense of accomplishment,” he said. “The work of God’s hands -- that imagery is evoked throughout Scripture. It’s part of our lives, and it’s one that we should include God in.”

The Memorial of St. Joseph the Worker is one of two feast days celebrated in honor of the saint. The other, on March 19, celebrates St. Joseph as the spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This memorial was initiated by Pope Pius XII in 1955. The pope sought St. Joseph’s intercession in the fight against communism and wanted to lift up the dignity of work, one of the core principles of Catholic teaching.