The Feast of St. Joseph
Reflection by John Klein

For a few hours on Monday, the dormitory in our shelter on Atlantic Avenue in Camden was transfigured. The cots were gone, replaced by a Eucharistic table and dining tables. The altar was adorned with traditional symbols of St Joseph -- flowers, a well-worn wooden tool box with tools, flowers, candles and bread for the feast. Connected to the altar were tables where all who gathered would worship and dine. The symbolism was clear and moving.

Music filled the air as the dormitory reflected the beauty and diversity of God's kingdom. Residents of Joseph's House, our 'guests', sat at table with volunteers, donors, board members, staff, volunteers from Joe Leone's Catering and Sisters of St. Joseph who came to share in the celebration. Gone was the shelter where people in need of stability and hope gather each night. In its place was a special gathering, a sacred one, where the spirit of our loving God touched our hearts in a beautiful way.

As I reflected on the celebration and its many touching images, one in particular remains with me. A little child, a girl of 3 or 4, was among those gathered. She sat surrounded by strangers-donors, volunteers, and guests of Joseph's House. She smiled lovingly at each and every one. Not for a moment did I see any signs of shyness or fear, just a simple and innocent presence welcoming everyone who came her way.

I was reminded of the prophet Isaiah who foretold the coming of Jesus saying that '...the spirit of the Lord will rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and knowledge... He will not judge but what his eyes see or decide by what his ears hear, but with righteousness he will make decisions for the needy and the poor of the earth... at his coming the wolf will lie down with the lamb... the calf, the lion and yearling all together. And a little child shall lead them.' Isaiah 11:2-6

For a short while yesterday I got a glimpse of God's kingdom here on earth, in the dormitory of a homeless shelter. People of all walks of life coming together to be healed by our loving God and to share a few moments healing one another and celebrating the life of a man who put a child and his mother first in his life. Content to remain in the shadows, leaving behind a legacy of selflessness and love that reveals, as Jesus did, that God loves us, one and all, and that we are called to do the same.


St. Joseph was a man who lead his family through the cold and insecurity of having no home in Bethlehem, living and as refugees in Egypt, and then finally making a daily living in Nazareth. Trusting God in all situations, acting with justice and kindness, listening for God's voice, he offers anyone good example and encouragement. The Church thinks of him as the patron saint of families, of those who are homeless or on the streets.


Joseph's House at 555 Atlantic Ave. takes its name from this hardworking, God- trusting, gentle man, because we hope to offer the same sort of loving compassion we can observe in Jesus, the "carpenter's son."


The Feast of St. Joseph is very special to Joe Leone. Joe and his team of 20 staff and volunteers took care of everything possible to make the celebration of St. Joseph a wonderful time. Joseph's House is so thankful for this wonderful celebration. Hearts, spirits and bellies were filled and memories were made thanks to Joe Leone and his team. 


Copyright © Joseph's House of Camden, All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
Joseph's House of Camden
555 Atlantic Avenue
Camden, NJ 08104