Fr. William Gurnee, pastor at St. Joseph's Parish on Capitol Hill, elevates the Eucharist during a March 19 Gold Mass for the Congressional Catholic Staff Association. (CS photo by Jaclyn Lippelmann)
Fr. William Gurnee, pastor at St. Joseph's Parish on Capitol Hill, elevates the Eucharist during a March 19 Gold Mass for the Congressional Catholic Staff Association. (CS photo by Jaclyn Lippelmann)

Just as St. Joseph needed courage in order to follow the will of God, congressional staff members need courage in order to live out their life of public service, said Father Carter Griffin, the vice-rector of the Saint John Paul II Seminary, during a March 19 Gold Mass for the Congressional Catholic Staff Association at St. Joseph’s Parish on Capitol Hill.

The celebrants of the Mass, held on the feast day of St. Joseph, were Father Griffin, Father William Gurnee, the parish’s pastor; and Jesuit Father Patrick Conroy, the chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives.

“It took an enormous amount of courage to do what Joseph had to do,” said Father Griffin, recalling how Joseph had to assume responsibility for the Son of God and his mother, was awoken in the middle of the night by an angel telling him to flee with his family to Egypt, and then had to return to the Holy Land knowing that there were still people there who wanted his son dead.

“Courage is a pre-requisite for every virtue and I think uniquely (for) the work you do as public servants,” he told the congressional staffers who attended the Mass.

Father Griffin noted that there are many good people serving the country who desire to change the world, and told them that the essential ingredient to making a difference is not political convictions or professional skill, but rather, “what makes the greatest difference in the world is holiness.”

“Only through the saints does true revolution come,” he continued. “If we really want to make a difference in the world, we begin by making a difference in ourselves.”

Father Griffin encouraged the congressional staffers to turn to St. Joseph in times of need, especially when they need courage to remain faithful to the Gospel, to protect the poor and vulnerable, to cope with suffering in their own lives, and to live an upright and moral life.

“What the Church needs more and more is heroic and holy men and women,” he said, encouraging them all to be a part of a “revolution of grace” that would change this country.

Later in the Mass, the congregation prayed for members of Congress, “that they will be guided by the Holy Spirit,” and for members of their staff, “that they will allow themselves to be real heroes of holiness.”

This year, St. Joseph’s Parish on Capitol Hill is celebrating its 150th anniversary. Other anniversary year events at St. Joseph’s include a Day of Service on June 23, a blood drive for Children’s National Medical Center on Sept. 16, and an anniversary Mass and reception on Oct. 20.