St. Joseph altars celebrate spirit, devotion, good fortune

Catholic churches announce schedules

March 03 at 8:00 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

St. Joseph Altar above at St. Gertrude Catholic Church in Des Allemands.
St. Joseph Altar above at St. Gertrude Catholic Church in Des Allemands.
Dating back to the 1700s, the St. Joseph Altar is celebrated by area Catholic churches and represents the devotion of Louisiana communities.

St. Gertrude Catholic Church, St. Charles Borromeo and St. Anthony of Padua are among the area Catholic churches hosting an altar this year.

“This St. Joseph altar is again a tremendous Sicilian tradition and, because of the wonderful melting pot that we are in South Louisiana, you don’t have to be Sicilians to have a St. Joseph’s altar,” said Father Ray Hymel. “At least at St. Gertrude’s, I can recall one member of Sicilian descent, but that makes no difference. Everybody all over south Louisiana, whether Sicilian or not, we love St. Josephs altars.”

The first St. Joseph Altar set up on the Island of Sicily was small, but it became a tradition and the altars continue to get bigger and more elaborate over time. The custom is not confined to any nationality and many believe the altar brings good fortune.

At St. Gertrude’s, the altar is done by St. Gertrude’s Ladies Altar Society and friends.

The public is invited to the viewing and serving of food from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 19 in the Father Mac Community Center. Viewing only will continue through 4 p.m.

At St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Destrehan, the alter will be available for viewing in the Borromeo Room at 5:30 to 8 p.m. March 18 and 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. March 19.

The altar is hosted by the St. Joseph’s Altar Society members.

Society member Sandra Owens said the church did the altar many years ago, discontinued it for 25 years and then resumed it last year.

“We restarted the altar and this is the second year of its reformation,” Owens said. “There’s over 100 women who partake in making sure this altar happens. There are bake days at the school cafeteria, but there are also people whe continue to bake in their home and bring the baked cookies and items to the altar when it’s being constructed.”

In Luling, at St. Anthony of Padua the altar will be blessed on March 19 immediately following 10:30 a.m. mass in the C.A. Building, said Melanie Saunee, parish secretary.

Viewing will be held until 4 p.m. On March 20, altar viewing will be held from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. with lunch at 11:30 a.m.

View other articles written Anna Thibodeaux

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