Food for the soul: St. Joseph altars

St. Joseph altar at St. Anthony
Last year’s St. Joseph altar at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Luling.

Churches honoring patron saint of the poor

It’s a bake-a-thon at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Destrehan as volunteers work feverishly on preparing 19,000 cookies for this year’s St. Joseph Altar.

“It’s quite an undertaking,” said Sandy Owens of the church’s St. Joseph Altar Society. “We do it to honor St. Joseph, who leads by example, and we want to be disciples of his ministry to take care of the poor and the hungry.”

With an estimated 100 members, the society – men and women – are preparing a variety of cookies to help make the altar happen at the Destrehan church.

Three bake days are being held to make the cookies, which will include traditional sweets like fig, anise, sesame, chocolate almond and even biscotti, Owens said.

When the visitors come to the altar on March 18 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and on March 19 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., they will get to see a cornucopia of foods intended as devotions to St. Joseph. The display will be held in the St. Charles Borromeo room or building to the right of the church with signage directing visitors.

Each visitor will get a bag with three cookies, a medal and prayer card. More cookies can be obtained with a donation, Owens said.

On Sunday, the church will feature a meal with spaghetti, salad, bread and a vegetable for a donation.

St. Joseph candles also will be available for sale.

Owens said anything left on the altar goes to Grace House, the VA Hospital in Reserve and Matthew 25:35 Food Pantry at St. Charles United Methodist Church, also in Destrehan, for the homeless.

Owens said this is the third year for the altar, which had been discontinued for 25 years at the church. In addition to a cornucopia of food, the altar will include the stations of devotion.

A new addition to this year’s altar is what Owens called a “3D virtual St. Joseph altar” or small replica of one prepared by school children for home-bound parishioners. They also will get a goody bag with cookies.

“It’s quite an undertaking. We do it to honor St. Joseph, who leads by example, and we want to be disciples of his ministry to take care of the poor and the hungry.” — Sandy Owens, St. Charles Borromeo Church

St. Gertrude’s Ladies Altar Society is baking cookies, too.

More than 30 people are volunteering to help with the church’s St. Joseph’s Day altar, as well as bake about 1,000 cookies that will be available in bags to visitors for a donation, said Sherry Folse, who heads the altar project.

The bag will include a variety of cookies, as well as a rosary and prayer card. It will also include a lucky fava bean.

St. Gertrude’s Catholic Church altar in Des Allemands will be held March 18 at the church. A blessing will be held at 10:30 a.m. to be followed by serving and viewing through 2:30 p.m. As in the past, it will reflect the Cajun culture.

In its 17th year, the altar is growing in volunteers and anticipated visitors, Folse said.

“Every year it seems to grow and grow,” said Folse, who has handled the altar for 10 years.

Their altar will include tables honoring deceased military members from the community, as well as recognizing living members of a family. Folse said there will be a petition table to submit prayers to St. Joseph, which will be burned once they are sent to the saint.

Salt bags also will be available for a donation. All proceeds go to the preparation of next year’s altar, she said.

An altar also is planned at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Luling on March 18. The Blessing of the Altar will follow 10:30 a.m. mass with lunch to follow and viewing through 3 p.at the church. On March 19, the altar opens at 6 a.m. with lunch at 11:30 P.M. and altar viewing through 6 p.m.

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