Former NFLer Matt Birk shares his journey in fatherhood in the Knights of Columbus film St. Joseph: Our Spiritual Father. Photo courtesy Knights of Columbus/Spirit Juice Studios

St. Joseph a picture of authentic masculinity

  • December 18, 2021

The Knights of Columbus are offering for free its latest film that takes a deep look into the life of Jesus’ foster father as a model of character and virtue for this generation.

St. Joseph: Our Spiritual Father is woven together with interviews from scholars, clergy and everyday people, all with a special devotion to St. Joseph. The film sheds a rare light on this biblical figure who is not often discussed yet intimately intertwined with the story of Christ from birth to resurrection.

Written and directed by Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker David Naglieri, the film was propelled forward by Pope Francis’ declaration of the Year of St. Joseph in December 2020, which wrapped up earlier this month. Sitting at just under an hour in length, it had a six-week run on ABC affiliates and can be accessed at just in time for Christmas.

Naglieri uses Jesus’ model of sharing parables to pass on the Gospel message. He tells the story of St. Joseph through historical accounts and the personal testimonies of men and women who have leaned on him through battles with parenthood, sickness, infertility, adoption and other challenges of family life. It includes interviews with former Major League Baseball player Darrell Miller and former NFL player and adoptive father Matt Birk, who share their journeys in fatherhood.

As Canada’s patron, the film naturally bears a strong connection to the nation. It shares the journey of Fr. Richard Conlin, a former Team Canada golfer recently ordained a priest in Vancouver. With a strong devotion to St. Joseph, Conlin offers a reflection on the journey to finding God’s path for his life and becoming a spiritual father himself.

“Conlin talks about how he grew in devotion to St. Joseph through the process of becoming a priest and kind of accepting his new role as spiritual father,” said Naglieri. “It was one of the different glimpses and looks into the life of St. Joseph and devotion to him and how he helps form us in all our vocations, whether we’re husbands or fathers or grandfathers, priests, mothers or any vocation within the universal family. ... Wherever you live in this world, you can find inspiration from it so it’s very much a universal story.”

It also features a visit to St. Joseph Oratory in Montreal and a candid interview with Fr. Mike Delaney who gives insight into the life of St. André Bessette. Inspired by St. Joseph as a model of humble service, Bessette helped build the pilgrimage site and was one of the greatest promoters of devotion to St. Joseph the world has ever known. Founded in 1904, the Oratory today is the largest church in the nation.

Naglieri says St. Joseph, who along with Mary humbly raised the Christ child, shows a picture of manhood that is not about the ruthless quest for financial gain but about obedience, sacrifice and love for family.

“One of the things to take away from the life of St. Joseph is how we can strive for authentic masculinity, which is not glorying in self, it’s not about ego and it’s not about pride,” said Naglieri. “It’s ultimately about being a man of sacrifice. Being strong enough to sacrifice what you want for what’s the best for the other and there’s no better example of that than St. Joseph.”

Naglieri saw a void in the film medium of works focused on the saint and now seemed the perfect time to push such a project forward.

“In terms of a film that kind of puts all the information about St. Joseph together and tells the story woven together about devotion to him, his role as the patron of the universal Church, as a pillar of virtue, as someone we can turn to for protection as an intercessor, that’s never been done to my knowledge,” said Naglieri in an interview with The Catholic Register. “We’re very happy to be the first to maybe through a documentary film tell the remarkable story.”

Comments (0)

There are no comments posted here yet

Leave your comments

  1. Posting comment as a guest.
Attachments (0 / 3)
Share Your Location

Please support The Catholic Register

Unlike many media companies, The Catholic Register has never charged readers for access to the news and information on our website. We want to keep our award-winning journalism as widely available as possible. But we need your help.

For more than 125 years, The Register has been a trusted source of faith-based journalism. By making even a small donation you help ensure our future as an important voice in the Catholic Church. If you support the mission of Catholic journalism, please donate today. Thank you.