19 March 2021
Mt 1:16, 18-21, 24a
Feast of St. Joseph, Spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary
St. Joseph has a special place in our family. Our Aunt Pat was a Sister of St. Joseph. Her given name was Mildred Patricia, after her mother, but she always went by Pat and didn’t realize that her first name was Mildred until her first day of kindergarten, when the Sister of St. Joseph at the front of the classroom called roll.
The Tomlin side of my family is from Cape May, New Jersey, and Aunt Pat, and all the Tomlins, were educated by the St. Joseph sisters, who have a large presence and beautiful retreat house on the shore. Since Aunt Pat was formed and educated by these sisters, it was natural that when she discerned her call to religious life, she joined the Sisters of St. Joseph.
Aunt Pat had a quiet presence. She was a student of St. Joseph and St. Therese of Lisieux and practiced the “little way.” Like her patron St. Joseph, she worked hard, and she loved generously. She taught school and coordinated religious education for several parishes near Cape May until her retirement in 2016. She also sacrificed her comfortable, communal life to become her mother’s main caregiver for the last ten years of her mother’s life. Like St. Joseph parenting Jesus, this was not a job that she anticipated, but one that she embraced, and she prayed to St. Joseph for the strength to do this work.
When I married into the family, Aunt Pat adopted me as if I had always been a Tomlin. She wrote cards to me regularly. When my husband deployed, she would call me just to check in. There was no distinction that I was niece “in-law” and not by blood. I was hers, and she was mine.
I’m certain that St. Joseph’s example helped impart to Aunt Pat her diligence in work and her generous spirit of adopting me as one of the family.
If I were in New Jersey today, I would break my lenten fast and feast on a small, cherry Rita’s Water Ice today since that was her favorite summer treat. St. Joseph and Aunt Pat, pray for us!
Is there someone in your life who has loved you with the spirit of St. Joseph? Give thanks for that person today.