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IPF Priests of St Joseph
Believing that God is raising up a charism in the Church for the care and support of diocesan priests in the spiritual life, several priests began some time ago to discern the formation of an association of diocesan priests who perceive a “call within a call” to be of service to their brother priests. On October 22, 2015, the Memorial of St. John Paul II, the Most Rev. George J. Lucas, Archbishop of Omaha, signed a decree erecting the IPF Priests of Saint Joseph as a Clerical Public Association in the Archdiocese of Omaha.
The icon of the Holy Family describes the qualities of this priestly vocation. This image of the Holy Family, written by Kiko Arguello for the Neo-catechumenal Way, is somewhat unusual in that Jesus is not a baby in Mary’s arms while Joseph stands by watchfully. Rather, in this depiction the Holy Family is traveling from Jerusalem to Nazareth after Jesus was separated from Mary and Joseph in the Temple at the age of twelve. Here, Mary carries a scroll containing the message of Isaiah (61), “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted,” which foreshadows Jesus’ future mission as Redeemer. As an adult at the start of his public ministry, Jesus will proclaim this same passage in the synagogue at Nazareth, and so in this scene the boy Jesus bows to Mary and the scroll she bears as if anticipating the mission before him.
Joseph carries Jesus on his shoulders as they journey home to Nazareth. As they walk, however, Joseph’s eyes are closed. Rapt in the beauty of the moment, Joseph savors in contemplation the marvelous grace to carry the Son of God. At the same time, Joseph moves in trusting dependence on the Father. In this way, Joseph epitomizes the “contemplative even in action.” Walking with closed eyes, Joseph is entirely handed over to the Father to guide and sustain him and his family. The light of grace from within, not Joseph’s own resources, will lead them safely home. In all of this Joseph shares Jesus’ delight to be so cared for, a father and son reveling in being together in a scene resplendent with tenderness and affection.
Though what passed between Joseph and Jesus remains in the mystical silence of the hidden years at Nazareth, Joseph, Father of the Interior Life, was given by God the Father to Jesus to form Jesus in the life of prayer in preparation for his future public ministry. Similarly, the IPF Priests of Saint Joseph serve Jesus in the hearts of priests and seminarians by accompanying them in hiddenness to foster their growth in the life of prayer so that they might be interiorly strengthened in their public ministry as priests of Jesus Christ. When the heart of the priest abides in intimate communion with the Trinity, then his ministry is anointed with greater fruitfulness.