A modest statue of a man and baby sits on an unadorned marble pedestal. The intimate chapel at the base of the Crean Tower, named the Mary Hood Chapel, is easily lost beneath the 236-foot stainless-steel mirrored spire that naturally draws one’s gaze heavenward.
However, through early December the small chapel will be a special place for prayer and reflection. Parishioners and visitors will be invited to venerate and pray to St. Joseph, depicted in the two-foot statue cradling the baby Jesus in his arms.
Earlier this year, Auxiliary Bishop Timothy Freyer blessed the statue in a ceremony attended by about 40 clergy, parishioners and staff of the Diocese of Orange.
On Dec. 8, 2020, Pope Francis declared the bulk of 2021, the 150th anniversary year of Pope Pius IX’s declaration of St. Joseph as Patron of the Universal Church, as a special “Year of St. Joseph.” The recognition extends from the Dec. 8 Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception in 2020 until the feast in 2021.
The ceremony and the placement of the statue were symbolic of Joseph: modest and unassuming, yet perched on the doorstep of something much greater.
The statue, ordered from Italy, is circled by kneeling cushions for prayer and veneration, and the outer wall has prayer candles for lighting.
A passage on the inner wall from Mark reads: “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all people.”
The chapel has been a kind of hidden gem at the campus. When the Catholic Church took over the property, a crystal sculpture of the risen Christ was on the pedestal in the sanctuary, but was damaged. After that was removed, the pedestal was empty and later had a statue of Mary before St. Joseph was given temporary residency.
“This seemed a wonderful place for it,” Father Al Baca, director for evangelization and faith formation for the Diocese, said of the temporary home for the St. Joseph sculpture.
Although the legal father of Jesus, Joseph is sometimes overlooked. During the blessing ceremony Bishop Freyer said Joseph was “a foster father who loved Jesus with a father’s heart.”
He also said Joseph has special resonance in a time when many openly ask, “Where is God?” in the time of pandemic. Freyer then related a story from Luke, when Mary and Joseph asked the same question after Jesus, as a 12-year-old, was separated from them in Jerusalem. After a frantic search, Jesus was found in temple.
As Joseph was able to find the Lord in Jerusalem, Freyer said, “Hopefully he will guide many to healing, joy and patience.”