Pastor, Father Jeffery Bayhi, will bless the altar on March 16 at 6 p.m. and again on March 17 at noon.
There will be a Lenten Meal after the Sunday blessing.
Everyone is welcome to view and to attend the Sunday blessing and meal at no charge.
Please call the Parish Office at 654-5778 or access the church web site at www.sjb-ola.org for more information.
Following the example set by the Sicilians of the first St. Joseph’s Altar, the St. John’s altar is the result of efforts from many parishioners. It is a parish wide effort to build, decorate, gather, prepare and serve food. The combined ministries of St John work together to create this local event. St. John parishioners, Jeni-Su and Vincent Cambre, coordinate the effort.
The altar honors St. Joseph, the foster father of Jesus and the patron saint of Italy. According to legend, St. Joseph saved the people of Sicily from the effects of a devastating drought and famine in the Middle Ages. Because of answered prayers, the altar tradition was started.
St. Joseph Altars came to Louisiana in the early 1800’s when people from Western Sicily immigrated to the state. They are usually held the weekend nearest the official feast day of March 19.
Altar breads are frequently made in various religious shapes and each shape represents a part of the Holy Family. Palm leaves symbolize the Blessed Mother. The crook and ladder signify St. Joseph and the cross represents Christ’s passion and death.
The breads are sometimes dried, toasted with sugar and sprinkled atop spaghetti.
The crumbs are symbolic of St. Joseph’s sawdust.
A visit to a St. Joseph altar is also said to be “lucky.” Some like to save the breadcrumbs to toss into storms to prevent destruction.
During the Sicilian famine, people were reduced to eating fava beans, a food normally fed to the animals. Therefore, a single fava bean is given to each altar participant. The bean, when carried in one’s pocket, will prevent “going broke.”
The St. Joseph’s Altar at St. John’s will feature donated baked goods, wine, fish and bread to be shared after the blessing. In addition to the meal, each attendee will receive a gift of cookies, St. Joseph bread, a prayer card and a fava bean!
We hope everyone will agree, the centuries old custom of participation at a St. Joseph’s Altar is a great showcase of food, tradition, and a magnificent gesture of charity and faith.