Retablo de San Jose’ Obrero:
(Retablo of St Joseph the Worker)
This portrayal of St Joseph and the Child Jesus has a fairly long history. In October 1986 we had the first healing Mass for people with HIV-AIDS at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church on 14th street in Manhattan. The Masses were held every month until I left New York for Jesuit Tertianship in 1989. I think it was March of 1987 that the Mass fell on the traditional feastday of St Joseph’s death, March 19th. I used to draw illustrations for the Masses, or for greeting cards, or to illustrate my poetry book. This drawing of St Joseph dates back to that special Mass. Now, here is the part you have to keep secret until June 22...at least from our Pastor at St Joseph on the Rio Grande in Albuquerque. The parish commissioned a surprise icon from me to give to Monsignor Lambert Joseph Luna in honor of his 40th Anniversary of Ordination to the priesthood on June 24; which we will celebrate Friday June 22. I chose to do a retablo instead. Retablos are the traditional religious art form of New Mexico. Female painters are called Santeras and male painters are Santeros. This art is hundreds of years old, and these beautiful and holy retablos grace all the older churches in New Mexico, as well as the newer churches since this art is still very much alive. My friend Roberto Lavadie carved the frame. I painted the drawing I mentioned above from 1987, and added the Child’s cradle, some boards, and an aqua blue table with a royal blue border to bring Mary’s presence into the image. Finally let me quote one of the oldest known prayers to St. Joseph for you and all Fathers:
O St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God. I place in you all my interests and desires. O St. Joseph, assist me by your powerful intercession and obtain for me from your Divine Son all the spiritual blessings through Jesus Christ, Our Lord; so that having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers.
O St Joseph, I never weary of contemplating you and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me, and ask Him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath.
With much love and gratitude to all our Fathers.
Happy Father’s Day !
Fr Bill McNichols - June 2018