Authenticity, Integrity, Sincerity

News: Commentary
by Fr Paul John Kalchik  •  •  April 5, 2022   

A man like St. Joseph

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Whether in the political sphere, sports or the Church, it's hard to find individuals who demonstrate good character. Men who exemplify the characteristics of authenticity, integrity and sincerity are increasingly rare.

Cdl. Donald Wuerl and ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick

Making a bad situation worse, most of our current Church leaders seem allergic to these important moral qualities. It's hard to imagine ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick having much sincerity over his long tenure as a Church hierarch. Cardinal Donald Wuerl, given his flagrant public lies, certainly ranks high among the Church's well-paid retired charlatans. 

With this conspicuous lack of individuals to hold up as good examples, St. Joseph remains one of our best role models. The faithful foster father of Our Lord epitomized moral character and virtue. He more than fills the vacuum left by modern men.

Saint Joseph remains one of our best role models.

While rearing Our Lord, St. Joseph unequivocally demonstrated that he was a man who honored his duties. He was a devout Jew and kept all the precepts of the Mosaic Law, and he provided for himself and the Holy Family through a lifetime of hard work.

Most of us know that St. Joseph made a living by being a carpenter — an honest trade that Jesus later shared.

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My own father, who taught me a lot about skilled trades, had a great devotion to St. Joseph. Victor Joseph Kalchik prided himself on his knowledge of his baptismal saint, often saying, "I don't know anything about St. Victor, but I can tell you a lot about St. Joe!"

My father and my uncle owned a cement-contracting business together for 26 years, and they emphasized quality in the driveways and sidewalks they poured. They reminded others of the importance of quality, saying, "You can't make mistakes with cement because you can't redo it — it has to be perfect on the first pour." My dad sometimes bragged about how their company required no advertising, noting, "We always have more than enough work for our crew because we do our work perfectly. Nothing beats perfect."

My dad often asked St. Joseph for help, especially with tricky projects. In my father's free time, he liked woodworking. He quipped, "You keep your hands clean when you work with wood."

The altar at Resurrection Parish

In retirement, my father ended up completing many restoration projects at my request. These included sanctuary furnishings for St. James Chapel and the Archbishop Quigley Center, the large ambo for St. Michael in Old Town and new altars for Resurrection Parish. During the long winter months (when cement could not be poured), my father, through the intercession of St. Joseph, completed dozens of Church restoration projects — all for the greater glory of God. 

During one winter, I carted the ancient walnut desk of Chicago's late archbishop Cdl. George Mundelein to my father's workshop. After its full restoration, it became Cdl. Francis George's desk. In a thank-you letter to my father, George mentioned that he would pray for him when working at it.

Cdl. Francis George's thank-you letter to my father

All this fine restoration work comes to mind because the prie-dieu used by U.S. papal nuncio Christophe Pierre during the recent consecration of Russia was another that my father lovingly restored. I like to think my father, now deceased, had a little hand in helping this belated consecration take place.


U.S. Papal Nuncio Christophe Pierre kneeling
on my father's restored kneeler

My father and St. Joseph had one important thing in common — they were men of character and integrity. Both men worked hard to amply provide for their families. And neither of these humble men had to advertise. 

To quote my dad one more time, "If you have a quality product, they will come to you."

To promote themselves and their work, many bishops hire highly paid PR spokesmen. I have often wondered how necessary this is. Does the Church's mission not sell itself if it remains true to Christ and His teachings? What would St. Joseph think of the millions of dollars used on diocesan advertising campaigns?

In St. Joseph, we find a man who epitomized authenticity, integrity and sincerity. My father realized the benefits of taking St. Joseph's example to heart and living it.

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