WEST JORDAN — Saint Joseph the Worker Parish will celebrate the one-year anniversary of the new church with an event honoring their patron saint by focusing on the dignity of workers.
"St. Joseph the Worker was founded by farmers, miners and manual laborers," said Anne Kurek, parish secretary. "They built the parish with their own hands."
The Workers Prayer Service on May 1 will include guest speakers Martha Hennessy, granddaughter of Dorothy Day, and Judy Barnett, Utah AFL-CIO communications director.
Dorothy Day was an American journalist, social activist and Catholic convert. She and Peter Maurin established the Catholic Worker movement, a nonviolent movement that advocates for the poor and homeless while providing direct aid.
Two murals will also be unveiled at the St. Joseph event: a Workers’ Wall and one dedicated to Dorothy Day.
To acquaint people with Day’s work, the parish will show a film about her on April 30.
"We will also bless our food pantry and name it in her honor," said Kurek. "Dorothy Day was well known for her houses of hospitality and there was one in Salt Lake City called the Joe Hill House."
Day stood for the causes of the poor, the homeless and the disenfranchised, said Father Patrick Carley, St. Joseph the Worker Parish pastor. "It is the expectation of many in the Church that she will be canonized some day and become the patron saint of workers," he said.
The history of the Saint Joseph the Worker Parish goes back to Holy Rosary Parish in Bingham Canyon, said Gary Topping, Diocese of Salt Lake City archivist.
"Holy Rosary Parish was started in the 1870s, when gold was discovered, and then copper in the Bingham area," Topping said. "The parish closed in 1958 and Immaculate Conception Parish in Copperton, which started in 1890, became the official successor. From St. Joseph the Worker’s earliest beginnings in the 1960s, the people who were living in West Jordan and Bingham became members. They have always been a working-class community and proud of their identity as pro-union and pro-labor."
Barnett, a member of Saint Ambrose Parish, has been a member of a local union for 40 years. "I love the labor movement and am proud of and humbled by the sacrifices of those who came before me; not only the men, but more importantly the women," said Barnett, who raised her two children as a single mother, sending them to Judge Memorial Catholic High School.
"While working and raising my family, I had the support of the labor movement and that has been important in my life," Barnett said. "What that means is I can retire with dignity."
The labor union has a lapel pin that reads ‘We are One,’ signifying that the labor movement resulted in an eight-hour work day, overtime, a safe environment and non-discrimination on the job, said Barnett. "Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, ‘If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.’"
Organized labor unions are under serious attack in this country, said Fr. Carley. "It’s a fundamental teaching of Catholic social justice that workers have the right to organize and form unions," he said. "We’re proud of our roots of working people, miners and farmers and proud to be the parish of St. Joseph the Worker."
The Saint Joseph the Worker Parish anniversary celebration will be held Tuesday, May 1, with a Workers Prayer Service at 7 p.m. at the church, 7405 S. Redwood Road in West Jordan. On Monday, April 30, a film about Dorothy Day will be shown at 7 p.m. in the parish social hall. For information call 801-255-8902 or www.stjoseph-wj.org.