Hanging on the wall in my childhood home was a simple image of Joseph the carpenter, working with a piece of wood. My dad for most of his life was also a carpenter, building homes for his small business, The Village Carpenter, and thus especially liked this image.

On May 1, we celebrate the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker. In the year 1955, amidst the tumultuous era of Communism and their May Day celebrations—which emphasized what the ideology was supposed to do for workers—Pius XII established May 1 as the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker. In a sense, this was a new feast to highlight the teachings of the many papal social encyclicals, issued since Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum in 1891.

Taken as a whole, Catholic social teaching emphasizes the dignity of the worker, the responsibility of employers, the need for humane methods of employment, and a just wage.

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