St. Joseph and the Dignity of Work

Photo by David Snyder/CRS

May 1 is the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker. If you ever thought, “Hey, Joseph is the member of the Holy Family who doesn’t get his due,” well, there you have it, he has two feast days, March 19 and May 1. How many saints can claim that?

Photo by Oscar Leiva/Silverlight for CRS
Photo by Oscar Leiva/Silverlight for CRS

St. Joseph is popularly honored as the patron of many things: the universal Church, fathers, the dying, and social justice, among others. Joseph was a craftsman making a living from his hands and modest skills. He was honorable enough to love and support a family comprised of a wife that society would have him reject and a child that wasn’t his biological son. He was humble enough to hear and obey the will of God. This is how he went about his work.

Work is part of Catholic social teaching. We are called to work — not just as a way to earn our living — but as a way to participate in God’s creation. And the ability to work honors human dignity. At Catholic Relief Services, our programs are constantly reviewed and redesigned to honor the dignity of people with sustainable solutions. We pursue agriculture and finance and education programs so the work of persons and communities can lead to livelihoods that improve prospects for themselves and their families.

So we celebrate the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, which reminds us of the holiness we can bring to our work, and the human dignity we must protect and honor for workers everywhere. And we invite you to use these resources when discussing the Catholic teaching on the dignity of work.

St. Joseph, pray for us.



  • The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers is a set of lesson plans for grades K­-8 about the Catholic social teaching principle the Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers. The lesson plans help explain the principle through the story of a microfinance group in Zambia.
  • The SILC Road is a video overview of Savings and Internal Lending Communities, a microfinance tool for building wealth and livelihoods through saving, lending, investing and education.
  • A Children's Chocolate Activity is a lesson about fair trade chocolate and the dignity of work. | En Español
  • Coffee Value Chain Simulation is an interactive simulation that illustrates the differences between conventional and fair trade practices. It is designed to teach middle and high school students about the Catholic social teaching principle dignity of work and the rights of workers. | En Español

See more resources about the dignity of work.