Revived household fosters spirit of St. Joseph in service and brotherhood


Photo provided by ASJ Household

If you had been on first floor Trinity Hall last year, you might have heard the phrase “Ite ad Joseph” or heard the St. Joseph chaplet prayed from room 114. The room has been silent for a semester but will not be any longer.

After dwindling numbers made the Apprentices of St. Joseph (ASJ) household take a semester off in fall 2018, the nearly 20-year-old household is back with a new drive and commitment to forming men of God. With pillars of service, loyalty and love, these men strive to live out their covenant of following in St. Joseph’s footsteps.

Coordinator Ryan Murphy, a junior education major, said that the meaning is all in the name. “Just like how Jesus was an apprentice to Joseph, and Joseph’s job was to raise Jesus as a father figure, so we have to be apprentices of God. We work in the way God taught us.”

The Apprentices pledge in their covenant: “We humbly beg St. Joseph to accept us as his lowly apprentices, that he may teach us the ways of manhood in all things, as he taught Our Lord. We submit ourselves to his holy patronage, his loving guidance, recognizing that he is the instrument through which Christ will fully transform our lives.”

Murphy said the household has a unique sense of brotherhood which is evident in the brothers’ communal prayer and service. “That’s how the covenant was lived out, in the brotherhood and commitments,” he said. “It’s one of the closest-knit relationships among households.”

When Murphy was looking for a household as a sophomore, he felt at home when visiting ASJ. When he and a friend intented, “we already felt as if we were brothers,” he said.

“It was the covenant that sold me for ASJ,” said Murphy. “It wasn’t just the devotion to one virtue, but the idea of being a man in general, and being a man of God. That really strikes a chord with me. That’s what I was looking for in a household.”

One section of the covenant reads: “There is only one reason for maturing into the man God calls each of us to be. That sole reason, that sole purpose, is to love, know and serve God – to be transformed completely in Jesus Christ.”

The common room boasts a large mural of St. Joseph and the child Jesus, painted by Pavel Federoff, class of 2016. It features symbols of the pillars: a straight edge for loyalty, a chisel for love and a cord for service.

Cords have particular significance for the Apprentices, who wear cords across their chest to some commitments. These cords bear seven knots that stand for seven joys and seven sorrows of St. Joseph, which the members pray during the walk to 4:45 p.m. Mass on Fridays.

The joys and sorrows of Joseph aren’t as commonly known as those of Mary, but Murphy said they’re an important part of his manhood: “Just like how Mary had joy and sorrow from bearing Jesus, Joseph took part in that.”

Murphy said he thinks that, while the brotherhood has certainly been emphasized in the past, “we were too shut in, not enough in the community.”

As coordinator, he aims to have the household participate in activities that reach out to and serve others. This means opening up events like board game nights and movie nights to anyone who wishes to come.

ASJ is also currently holding a fundraiser for room switch period, offering to hire themselves out to help students move from one dorm to another, or even as far as Assisi Heights.

Murphy hinted that there might be some other surprises in store as well to foster community in Trinity Hall.

The Apprentices meet for four weekly commitments: the rosary on Mondays at 9 p.m. in the creche outside the Portiuncula; the St. Joseph chaplet, with devotions to the Holy Family, on Wednesdays at 9 p.m.; the 4:45 p.m. Mass on Friday; and Lord’s Day on Saturdays at 4 p.m.

“We could use more men,” said Murphy. “God’s watching out for us, and everything is through the intercession of St. Joseph.”

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