Feast of St. Joseph the Worker celebrated with the Blessing of Tools in Portland

Despite the rain pouring outside, a small group gathered inside the entrance to the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Sunday, April 30, for the annual Blessing of the Tools and Work Equipment, held in celebration of the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker.

During the prayer service, Father Kevin Upham, parochial vicar of the Portland Peninsula & Island Parishes, asked God to protect and sustain those present in their work, praying that he would “protect your servants, who stand before you devout and faithful, bearing the tools of their trade. Grant that their hard work may contribute to the perfecting of your creation and provide a decent life for themselves and their families.”

Father Upham then sprinkled the tools and equipment with holy water, as well as those who gathered in the cathedral’s millennial entranceway.

Among those who brought tools to be blessed were members of the Jenkins family in Portland.

“I just do simple woodwork normally, and I brought my knives, my drill bits, some clamps,” said Adrian, age 12.  “I brought them so they would be safe when I am using them.”

“We’re learning woodworking together. It’s something we’re doing together. It’s a great way to spend time together,” said Ron Jenkins, Adrian’s father, who works as an attorney. “I am here for the same reason. I believe that we should put God first in all things, and hopefully, then, we merit his protection and guidance, and he will make our work fruitful.”

 “I came to get my tools blessed, so I don’t cut myself,” said Charlie, Adrian’s 8-year-old brother, who said he likes doing some of his own projects.

“I just like carving simple things like sticks and spoons,” he said.

Father Kevin Upham was joined at the Blessing of the Tools service by Father Selvaraj Kasi, HGN, also a parochial vicar of the Portland Peninsula & Island Parishes, who shared a passage from Luke’s Gospel, which told of Jesus’ summoning of Simon Peter and fellow fishermen to become his followers.

During the service, those gathered also joined in praying the Our Father and the Litany of St. Joseph.

Father Upham, who serves as a part-time chaplain at Maine Medical Center in Portland, was also planning to hold a Blessing of the Tools ceremony there.

The Portland Peninsula & Island Parishes began holding the Blessing of the Tools in the Year of St. Joseph (2020 to 2021) and has continued the tradition annually. St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Bangor also held a Blessing of the Tools service this year. You can read about it here.

While the Scriptures don’t tell us a lot about St. Joseph, we know he was a carpenter, which is why he is the patron saint of carpenters, craftsmen, engineers, and workers in general.

The Feast of St. Joseph the Worker is celebrated on May 1, one of two feast days in his honor. The other, on March 19, celebrates St. Joseph as the husband of Mary.

Father Kevin Upham blesses the tools.
Father Selveraj Kasi and Father Kevin Upham
Father Selvaraj Kasi, HGN
People gathered
Father Kevin Upham sprinkles the tools with holy water.