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Issue 16 – Easter 2023


Ite Ad Ioseph

On the intercession of patron saints.


When I was a child, my mother impressed upon me that, by virtue of my christening, I have an indelible relationship with Saint Joseph. It must have been early in my life when my mother told me the full story behind my name, the why, because it has stuck with me ever since I can remember. It was not for the ordinary or often trite reasons people choose names: not because Joseph was my father’s or my grandfather’s name (a venerable tradition), nor because it was on a top ten list of baby names that year, nor because it was cute.

My mother learned of her pregnancy in late 1997, at which point little over two years had passed since they had first immigrated to Chicago from Poland. Their fatherland was freed from the communist repression of the Soviet yoke, but the transition period in the Nineties was terribly hard on many. Alcoholism and unemployment were rampant: the disorientation that came with the dissolution of the Soviet bloc wreaked havoc and Poland’s turn to the democratic West was not the romantic vision of liberal democratic idealists. My parents were spared many of these unfortunate miseries, and, like a large chunk of Polonia in the preceding decades, they looked toward the United States as a land of opportunity. They won the visa lottery and moved across the Atlantic with my nine-year-old brother in tow, to join some of our extended family in Chicago.

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About the author

Joseph Paul Barnas

Joseph Paul Barnas is a writer from Chicago, Illinois. His writing has also appeared in University Bookman and Athwart.