Above Image: This image comes from the cover of Fr Donald Calloway’s book, ‘Consecration to St Joseph: The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father’ (Marian Press).
Each year, the Church dedicates the whole month of March to St Joseph. On more than one occasion, I have heard people comment that there is so little mention of St Joseph throughout the gospels, so why the need to focus on him so much? We have also just completed a full year dedicated to this great saint and, thanks to the success of Fr Donald Calloway’s book ‘Consecration to St Joseph’, a new awakening about St Joseph has begun. For someone from whom not one word has been recorded in scripture, how can we write so much about him? I want to share a few occasions where St Joseph came through for me, for my family and for the apostolate Parousia and why now I appreciate this great saint more than ever.
Firstly, it is true that not a single word of St Joseph is recorded in the gospels. We have no details about his birth or death and we have no knowledge of his tomb or burial. He is not a man of few words, but of no words! I recently joked with my staff about what a book based on the sayings of St Joseph would look like. It would be completely blank! So, what is it that makes him so important? He is given two major roles in Salvation History. He is the husband of the greatest of all saints, the creator’s ‘masterpiece’, Our Lady, Mary. That alone should be enough to justify his high status but, on top of that, he is also given the mammoth task of being the earthly father of Jesus Christ, the second person of the Blessed Trinity, God the Son! Wow! What a responsibility! Can you imagine having to be the person responsible for raising Jesus! How would you teach and discipline Him? As a father myself, I can only imagine the pressure that St Joseph must have felt to be a good role model.
What else makes this great saint so important? Consider how he carried himself and how he lived his life. We know by the gospel accounts that he worked hard as a carpenter. He was a man of prayer, listening to God’s will. He was a noble honest man, wanting to protect his wife from scandal. We live in a time of so much noise, so many voices sharing their opinions on so many things. St Joseph reminds us that, when it comes to living and sharing our faith, actions speak louder than words. The faith is often understood as ‘caught’, not just ‘taught’. St Joseph shows us the way this is done through his example. There is so much to say about why St Joseph is the true model of Christian life. I encourage you to get your own copy of Fr Donald Calloway’s Book ‘Consecration to St Joseph’ as it’s the most comprehensive book on St Joseph I’ve ever read. The Wonders of St Joseph are amazing and there is so much for us to learn.
Above: Charbel & Christine Raish sitting in front of the statue outside of their home.
I would now like to share about when St Joseph became a big deal in my life. It started in a real way when my wife and I were looking for a bigger house. Our home at the time had two bedrooms for our family of six. After almost a year of searching, we’d had no success. One day, a family friend of ours told us of a French convent, dedicated to St Joseph. This convent accepts prayer requests from anyone around the world. Masses are then offered for these intentions. My wife wrote down a prayer request to St Joseph, to find us a house. She included the following requests: a larger, country style home, closer to my work, space for the kids to run around, a space dedicated to homeschooling (this was important, to be able to make the switch to home schooling). As you can see, she was specific! Well, not long after that prayer request, a work colleague of mine, Chris, approached me about co-owning a property consisting of two houses and 7 acres of space! Well, it worked out that by sharing the cost of the place we were able to collectively purchase it but, the maximum we could borrow was considerably under the sale amount. We kept praying to St Joseph and the official valuation of the property came in, exactly to the cent, at the amount we could borrow. Eventually, the owner agreed to sell the home at that price. Thanks be to God! Thanks to the intercession of St Joseph! We placed a statue of St Joseph in front of our new home, in thanksgiving. We also offered to name our new, expected baby either Joseph or Josephine. Well, we had a baby boy soon after that and yes his name is Joseph – our fifth child. This new home not only ticked the boxes with the space but also had a schoolhouse! It was even a country style home! My wife’s prayer request was specific! We began home schooling that year and have not looked back!
Once we’d moved house, I then moved the Parousia office to the lounge room section of our new place. We lived without a lounge room for the first 18 months. With five children, my wife and I could not sustain the costs of Parousia on our own and I had since increased my teaching hours to make up for the loss of Parousia. We were ready to pass the apostolate onto another person or even simply fold it up, as we had run it for nine years. I thought that we’d done enough for the Church and that we now needed to focus on the family. However, just as I thought about giving up the apostolate, I received a series of signs. The first was a random email from Chris Stefanick, from Real Life Catholic, who said, “just want to let you know that I am praying for you and that the southern hemisphere needs you. Don’t give up on Parousia”. Very random, I thought, but very soon after that another sign came. I attended a fundraiser dinner to support the Philippines, as so many families lost their homes during the hurricane disaster in 2013. There were over 800 people there and I was overwhelmed with the number of people telling me how the Parousia CDs changed their life and thanking me for distributing them. Many said the exact same thing, “Keep going. Don’t give up!” How interesting! The same message as Chris Stefanick and not just one or two people, but dozens! I thought, “Ok. Lord, let’s see if this is a sign to keep going”. I prayed to God, “If Scott Hahn agrees to come to Australia, then I will take that as a sign you want me to continue running Parousia”. The very next day, a man named Kevin Bailey from Melbourne rang the Parousia number and said “Charbel, Scott Hahn asked me to call you to discuss a tour to Australia” I could not believe it. That was my third sign! I said, “Thank you, Lord. I got my sign, but I don’t have the funds to keep this going?”. Then, St Joseph came through!
Above: Joseph Raish. Named in honour of St Joseph.
It was March 10, 2014. My wife and I began a novena to St Joseph. As we were discerning the intention for which we should be praying, we realised that we had never offered novena for Parousia before, so the decision was made. Just a few weeks before we began, I asked my school headmaster if it was possible for my teacher’s office to be moved into the school’s video studio. I could then bring the Parousia resources in there, for the families of the school. He originally said it would not be possible but, after the first day of the St Joseph novena, he pulled me aside and said that the formation committee thought it was a great idea to have Parousia set up in the studio as it would be great for the parents. So he said, “Move in anytime!” This room was about three times the size of my lounge room. It had a green-screen, computers, direct phone line, internet, even the daily school cleaners. It catered for all our needs at that time! Thank you, St Joseph!
But St Joseph was not finished!
During the first week of the school term, the school photocopier broke down. It was a crucial time for the teachers to prepare class booklets and worksheets. The company was not able to get a machine out for two weeks and the school was desperate. I offered my production machine that was still sitting in my lounge room. This had been a heavy financial burden each month. I said that there was another three years left on the lease and, if they reimbursed the lease, they could have it. They jumped on it. It was a win-win. Now, that monthly burden had been lifted, which was a big deal. Thank you, St Joseph!
St Joseph was still not finished!
We needed to upgrade our e-commerce website and, at the time, my research pointed to the best two options – ‘BigCommerce’ and ‘Shopify’. I wanted to meet someone face to face and, of the two companies, BigCommerce had a Sydney office. I made an appointment to see the salesperson and, when I got there, I noticed a man I recognised in one of the offices. I asked the salesperson who he was. It turns out, he was the founder of the company. I just randomly wondered with the salesperson if I’d met this man before. The salesperson went over to ask him. He came back to me and said, “My boss does know you and he has offered you a six month free trial. I accepted and signed up with BigCommerce. I wanted to thank the founder for his generosity and so I set up a meeting. He shared with me how he was familiar with Parousia from our first international tour with Tim Staples. He was impressed and thanked me for organising it all. He asked about my story and purpose and, once I had finished sharing, he invited the salesperson back in the office and said, “Give Parousia the Enterprise Package, for free, for life”. That’s right. For free and for life!
Thank you, St Joseph!
But still, St Joseph was not done yet, interceding on our behalf.
Kevin Bailey came to visit for the first time and it was great to meet him. We discussed how we could organise the Scott Hahn tour and, by the end of it, he was amazed by the amount of CDs, DVDs and other resources we had available. He offered to assist us in any way he could and that we only needed to ask. I later wrote him an email with a wish list and vision for the Church in Australia. He rang me about two weeks later to suggest that we joined forces as co-directors and really expand Parousia. He would promote it in Melbourne and I would continue in Sydney. He injected some capital, which allowed us to hire people and really take things to a new level.
My wife and I had been ready to give up this apostolate and, by that simple prayer to God and then the novena to St Joseph, we received a very clear sign that we should continue. We were then provided with the means to make it happen! St Joseph provided for us and now, eight years later, we have grown significantly. We have reached over a million people around the globe through this work – the work I was ready to give up! Thank you, St Joseph!
I now work full time on Parousia, as you may know, and I continue to turn to St Joseph for any needs. He is part of my daily prayer and we also have consecrated the apostolate ‘Parousia’ to him. I cannot stress to you enough how powerful this saint is. I encourage you to turn to St Joseph for anything! He is there in heaven, right next to Our Lady, interceding for us.
St Joseph, the man of no words but pure action, pray for us!
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– Fr Donald H. Calloway, MIC (Paperback)
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