May 1, the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, will be a special day of prayer in the Diocese of Trenton, as Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., has announced a Mass for all workers, followed by a prayer service to reconsecrate the United States to the Blessed Mother.  

Instituted in 1955 by Pope Pius XII, the Feast of Saint Joseph the Worker celebrates the holiness of human labor and Joseph, a carpenter and the foster father of Jesus.

“The Feast of St. Joseph the Worker offers an opportunity to lift up in prayer all workers as they struggle with the many different challenges that are now part of their daily existence," the Bishop said. "So many have lost their jobs and their livelihoods, or are working in conditions that are less than ideal. They continue to strive and persevere in order to remain productive and provide for their families. Our Church teaches about the dignity of work and the respect that should be accorded all workers. We ask God to carry them through these difficult days and to allow them to again contribute to the common good through the gift of their work.”

During the noon Mass, Bishop O’Connell will offer prayers for the intentions of all workers –  from the employed, unemployed and seeking work, to the retired.

Explaining the value of celebrating the Mass at this time, Bishop O’Connell said, “The priority during this pandemic has centered on stopping the spread of the virus and caring for those who are infected. And that is of course as it should be. But every family is also acutely aware of the very real stress and suffering that this crisis has inflicted on the nation’s workforce.”

The Mass will be livestreamed without a congregation from the chapel of St. Joseph Church, Toms River. Bishop O’Connell will be the main celebrant and homilist, with the pastor, Father Scott Shaffer, and parish priests concelebrating. The Mass can be viewed on all diocesan websites and social media outlets, including and the diocesan YouTube channel, and will be available for viewing after the event.

Later the same day, Bishop O’Connell will join bishops from across the United States and Canada in reconsecrating the two nations to the care of the Blessed Mother under the title "Mary, Mother of the Church." Bishop O’Connell will lead a prayer service at 3 p.m. from Mary, Mother of the Church, Bordentown, which will also be available to view on diocesan websites and social media.

Each year, the Church seeks the special intercession of the Mother of God during the month of May. This year, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops decided to reconsecrate their nations to Mary, Mother of the Church, especially in the midst of the current pandemic. 

The title “Mary, Mother of the Church” was given to the Blessed Mother by Pope St. Paul VI at the Second Vatican Council, and a memorial under the title was added to the Church’s liturgical calendar by Pope Francis in 2018 to be celebrated annually on the Monday after Pentecost Sunday.

This reconsecration reaffirms the bishops' previous consecrations of the United States to Mary. In 1792, the first bishop of the United States, Bishop John Carroll, consecrated the nation to Mary under the title Immaculate Conception, and in 1846, the bishops unanimously chose Mary under that same title as the patroness of the nation. In 1959, Cardinal Patrick O'Boyle of Washington again consecrated the United States to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This was the year when construction of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington was completed. 

The May 1 reconsecration follows the example of the Latin American Conference of Bishops, which consecrated Latin America and the Caribbean to Our Lady of Guadalupe on Easter.

During this COVID-19 crisis and until further notice, Holy Communion can only be distributed to the faithful as Viaticum for the dying in the Diocese of Trenton.

Catholic News Service contributed to this report.