Labor Liturgies

Masses, prayers mark Workers’ Memorial Day, Feast of St Joseph the Worker

Late Spring witnesses two major calendar dates for Catholic worker justice activists. April 28 is Workers’ Memorial Day, a holiday when the trade union movement remembers workers who have died on the job. And May 1 is observed worldwide as a holiday honoring labor; for Catholics, it is celebrated as the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker.

In Silver Spring, MD Fr. Brian Jordan OFM celebrated the fourth annual Building Trades’ Workers Memorial Mass for a congregation of construction workers on April 25. Fr. Brian made special note of the tragic death of six Baltimore construction workers when the city’s Key Bridge was struck by a ship and collapsed. Fr. Ty Hullinger of Baltimore – a CLN Board Member – led prayers in the city on Workers’ Memorial Day itself at a remembrance where AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler also spoke. Meanwhile, Fr. Brian headed to New York City to hold a similar Building Trades’ Memorial Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Finally, Fr. Jon Thomas – chaplain of the New Jersey AFL-CIO, celebrated a labor Mass at his parish of Christ the King. In his homily, Fr. Jon referenced the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, which quotes St. Ambrose: “Every worker is the hand of Christ that continues to create and to do good.”  The Church teaches that the worker should not be reduced to “a mere instrument of production” but, in fact, “labor has an intrinsic priority over capital” (cf. Compendium paragraph no. 271).

Thanks to all the faithful, clergy and laity, who marked these important days!