Celebrating the Feast of St. Joseph is a decades-old tradition at Our Lady of Sorrows Church in Homewood. The custom continued March 16.
About 200 people gathered in the parish hall for the annual event, the center of which was the huge St. Joseph Altar assembled as an offering of love, labor and sacrifice honoring the patron saint of the Universal Church.
The altar bore statues representing Jesus and Mary and one of St. Joseph holding the Christ Child donated by parishioner Marie Swift. The altar included fresh fruit and loaves of bread. The bread was baked into crosses, hearts and other shapes symbolizing the Crucifixion and the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. The altar also featured candles, lilies and gladiolas.
OLS parishioner Rosemarie Sicola has participated in the celebration for years.
“I have been coming 41 years,” she said. “It first started just in the church with bread and pastry, and they would give it to the shut-ins. And then we came down here [to the parish hall] and did the whole works about 10 years later.”
The St. Joseph Altar originated in Sicily centuries ago to thank St. Joseph for his intercession at the end of drought and famine. Those of Italian heritage and others at OLS look forward to the feast which this year was organized by Leanora Maenza.
“We had people here all day on Friday and all day today planning and cooking and decorating the altar and baking and making the foods,” said Fran Ross Robertson, who was in charge of decorating. “There’s no meat involved because everything has to come from the land or the sea on St. Joseph’s Day.”
The dinner followed the 5 p.m. Mass and blessings of the food and St. Joseph Altar by associate pastor Rev. Father Anthony Weis.
This year, parishioners prepared about 100 dishes including a variety of salads, pastas and fish; fresh, roasted and fried vegetables; fruit, salmon and tuna croquettes; casseroles including squash and baked ziti; bread, macaroni and cheese, quiche, wraps and lentil and bean soups.
Among the desserts were red velvet cupcakes, pound cake, lemon pound cake, cheesecake and caramel cake; chocolate chip, Italian wedding and peanut butter cookies; brownies and donuts.