Saint Joseph lived and worked in God’s presence. The Gospels of Matthew and Luke recount his deeds and tremendous trust in God. Although his words are not recorded, his actions teach us much. An ordinary man chosen by God to be Jesus’ foster father and Mary’s husband, Saint Joseph is the protector of the Church and the Holy Family, as well as the patron saint of workers. He can inspire and help us as we seek to trust God and respond promptly to the Holy Spirit. He’s one of my “go to” saints to ask for help and growth in trust, so I’m always glad to find a church or shrine dedicated to him and share that with my readers.
The Shrine of Saint Joseph in Stirling, NJ is a beautiful place to honor him and to pray for the same trust and courage with which God graced Saint Joseph. At the time I write this post, the Shrine remains open for private prayer and Eucharistic Adoration. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, you temporarily cannot go to Mass there or visit the extensive gift shop as you normally would be able to do. Instead, we can all pray for Saint Joseph’s protection and for an end to the pandemic while making this virtual pilgrimage online.
Father Thomas August Judge established the Shrine in 1924 and the original chapel remains on the grounds. While Brothers from the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity, the order Father Judge founded, continue to serve at the Shrine, there have been many additions since the Shrine was created.
Last summer I spent a day exploring what the Shrine has to offer. I enjoyed Mass in a stone chapel full of natural light and containing many beautiful works of art dedicated to Saint Joseph. Built in 1975, the chapel has an unusual tabernacle wrought out of stone. Fine icons adorn the chapel walls and statues of Saint Joseph are found in many places in the buildings and on the grounds.
The Shrine is adding a new Pilgrim Chapel with a mosaic of Saint Joseph’s life. Donations can be made here. The mosaic depicts Saint Joseph holding the Child Jesus surrounded by other events and points in St. Joseph’s life where he said “yes” to God. Created by German artist Leopold Forstner (1878-1936) of enamels and glass, the mosaic will be installed in the center altar of the Pilgrim Chapel. There’s an extensive reflection about the Mosaic available on the Shrine website, as well as a brochure. For now, visitors can view a photographic display in the stone chapel building.
One particularly moving feature of the Shrine is a memorial to those who lost their lives on 9/11/2001. The 9/11 memorial or Tower of Remembrance Garden has a bell tower constructed from beams salvaged from the North Tower after the collapse of the World Trade Center. Surrounded by flowering shrubs and plants, the rusted steel bears the scars of tremendous heat. The Garden is a serene place to contemplate how love defeats evil and to remember those who perished that day and the years after from related illnesses. An annual candlelight vigil commemorates the lives that were lost and those that continue to serve and protect the country.
Retreats are normally available at the Shrine. Near the retreat residence and dining hall you’ll find a lovely pathway with the Stations of the Cross, to walk and pray while enjoying the scenery.
The Shrine is located at 1050 Long Hill Road, Stirling NJ 07980 and can be reached at 908.647.0208 or via its website contact page.