When I was doing my priest training at Oxford one of the other students there talked about why St. Joseph was important to her. Her own mother had become pregnant before she married and coming from Southern Ireland 60 years ago her chances of finding a husband would be impossible with a small child. However, she was not prepared to give up her child.
She moved to England and adverstised for a husband and believe it or not, found one! They married and her husband brought up his step daughter as if she was his own. Marie knew how fortunate she had been in her step father who took on that important role in her life.
And so St. Joseph was important to her as she realised how he also accepted Mary as his wife, even though she was pregnant with Jesus before marriage. He cared for Mary and Jesus as a true father.
There are many men and women who marry into families with children. It is difficult time for everyone as the family relationships have to be built with time and effort rather than through the natural birth bonds.
So let us give thanks for all step fathers and mothers who have given their lives to marriage and also to the nurture and care of other people’s children within the family environment.