US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Happy Feast of St. Jude!

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National Shrine of St. JudeNext week, in honor of All Saints Day, we'll be posting reflections from readers and contributors on their favorite saints. Today, we get things started with a post by Kevin Goodwin on St. Jude, whose feast we celebrate today. St. Jude is especially important to U.S. Catholic, as the magazine was originally published under the name, The Voice of St. Jude, later shortened to St. Jude before becoming U.S. Catholic.

By Kevin Goodwin

St. Jude has always been my favorite saint. Growing up in a small, mostly Catholic, northern Michigan community (I would pull out my hand-map to show you, if I could), my grandmother and mother were always fans of St. Jude, and I was inspired by their faith in the patron of hopeless causes. But it wasn’t until I came to work for the Claretians that I understood the extent of St. Jude devotion across the United States.

A Claretian priest by the name of Father James Tort, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, founded the National Shrine of St. Jude on the south side of Chicago in 1929. Many of Tort’s parishioners at OLG were laborers in the nearby steel mills, which began cutting jobs in early 1929, an ominous sign of the Great Depression that would begin take shape later that year.

Father Tort saw his community struggle and his heart went out to his neighbors. He was devoted to St. Jude Thaddeus, who was relatively unknown to the general Catholic population at that time. In fact, devotion to St. Jude had fallen out of favor because his name was confused with Judas, the betrayer of Jesus. In an effort to lift the spirits of his parishioners, Father Tort began regular novenas to St. Jude.

His congregation showed such great response to the devotion to St. Jude that an overflow crowd attended services on the final night of a Solemn Novena that ended on the saint's feast day, October 28th, 1929—the day before the U.S. stock market crashed.

Just as they were in 1929, times are tough now, but people still come to the Shrine from across the country, asking St. Jude to intercede for them. Today the devotion to St. Jude that Fr. Tort nurtured long ago extends far beyond the reaches of South Chicago.

In contrast to St. Jude appeals elsewhere, the Claretians have always tried to keep the devotion at the Shrine free from superstition and promises of miraculous cures. The key to St. Jude’s great appeal is not that the saint can create miracles, but that he instills in his patrons a power to sustain them and to lift their spirits during life’s twists and turns.

What inspires me is the faith of St. Jude devotees. These are not weak or needy people asking for a handout from God, rather they share an extraordinary faith that St. Jude will provide whatever is needed to accept the outcome of the situation for which they pray.

Director of the Shrine, Father Mark Brummel (whose birthday coincidentally falls on the Feast of St. Jude!) sums up perfectly the confident trust of St. Jude devotees. “One person may face a serious health problem, another may have to cope with a difficult family member or struggle with the loss of a loved one, but they come to the Shrine or send their petitions with confidence in their prayer that St. Jude will intercede with God in their time of need—and I am inspired by that.”

Me too, Father Brummel, me too.

(Above image: National Shrine of St. Jude)

Kevin Goodwin is Communications Manager for the St. Jude League.