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Atchison honors St. Joseph the Worker with a little elbow grease

Building one of the headboards for a Sleep in Heavenly Peace bed are: (from left) Patrick O’Malley, faculty adviser to the Benedictine College, Atchison, chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace; Brian Kesse, a member of St. Benedict Parish, Atchison; and Father Jeremy Heppler, OSB, pastor of St. Benedict Parish. Since its 2018 formation, Sleep in Heavenly Peace has built and delivered more than 500 beds to those in need throughout the area and region. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MARC ANDERSON

by Marc and Julie Anderson

ATCHISON — Two-year-old Joseph Minnis might not know much about St. Joseph, but he definitely seemed curious about the statue honoring his patron at the Mass here May 1.

The young grandson of Benedictine College president Stephen Minnis, along with his parents Matt and Mary Katherine and baby sister Mary Eleanor, joined some 500 members of the Atchison Catholic community for an outdoor Mass and celebration of the feast of St. Joseph the Worker, at which a statue of St. Joseph stood beside the altar.

Two-year-old Joseph Minnis approaches the statue of St. Joseph after an outdoor Mass celebrated on May 1 on the grounds of St. Joseph Church. Joseph is the grandson of Benedictine College president Steve Minnis and the son of Matthew and Mary Katherine Minnis. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MARC ANDERSON

A full evening of fellowship, food and fun followed on the grounds of St. Joseph Church, one of three used by St. Benedict Parish.

In his homily, the parish’s pastor and celebrant Father Jeremy Heppler, OSB, discussed St. Joseph and an image of the saint on a prayer card distributed before the Mass. The card depicts a fresco in St. Benedict’s Abbey in which St. Joseph and the child Jesus are seen building an altar together.

Calling the fresco his favorite in the abbey, Father Heppler said, “What strikes me so much is St. Joseph kneeling next to the child Jesus. St. Joseph teaching patiently the child Jesus, teaching him the dignity of work, teaching him the importance of completing a task.”

“But it’s also Jesus teaching Joseph,” he continued. “Because as you may recall — what are they building? An altar, and there are three nails by Jesus. Even the picture itself foreshadows what Jesus offers to all of us.”

Father Jeremy Heppler, OSB, celebrates Mass in honor of St. Joseph the Worker, assisted by (left to right): Father Matthew Habiger, OSB; Deacon Chuck Welte; Father Roderic Giller, OSB; and Father Jay Kythe, OSB. Also joining in the celebration were Brothers Leven Harton, Joseph Ryan, Karel Soukup, Maximilian Anderson, Angelus Atkinson and Jean-Marie Hogan. LEAVEN PHOTO BY MARC ANDERSON

Admittedly, Joseph’s role in Scripture is a quiet one.

“All that we see of Joseph in the readings are deeds — and in those deeds, we see him pointing to the One . . . who is the way, the truth and the life,” Father Heppler said.

After Mass, a sloppy joe meal and a bake sale, whose proceeds will benefit the parish, were complemented by a particularly appropriate opportunity for the feast day being celebrated. In partnership with Atchison’s Benedictine College chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace, participants were invited to help build beds for those in need. The national organization solicits donations and then builds and delivers beds, blankets and linens to those in need, particularly children, across the United States.

A young boy is all smiles as a crew from Sleep in Heavenly Peace constructs his new bed in his bedroom on March 20. In all, 44 beds were delivered and assembled that day. PHOTO COURTESY OF SLEEP IN HEAVENLY PEACE

Formed in 2018, Benedictine College’s chapter is one of approximately 200 across the country and has built and delivered more than 500 beds in the past three years. Nine headboards were built throughout the evening by those in attendance, including Father Heppler himself.

About the author

Marc & Julie Anderson

Freelancers Marc and Julie Anderson are long-time contributors to the Leaven. Married in 1996, for several years the high school sweethearts edited The Crown, the former newspaper of Christ the King Parish in Topeka which Julie has attended since its founding in 1977. In 2000, the Leaven offered the couple their first assignment. Since then, the Andersons’ work has also been featured in a variety of other Catholic and prolife media outlets. The couple has received numerous journalism awards from the Knights of Columbus, National Right to Life and the Catholic Press Association including three for their work on “Think It’s Not Happening Near You? Think Again,” a piece about human trafficking. A lifelong Catholic, Julie graduated from Most Pure Heart of Mary Grade School and Hayden Catholic High School in Topeka. Marc was received into the Catholic Church in 1993 at St. Paul Parish – Newman Center at Wichita State University. The two hold degrees from Washburn University in Topeka. Their only son, William James, was stillborn in 1997.

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