Northeast News
March 12, 2014

On March 19, neighborhood Catholic churches will celebrate the feast of Saint Joseph.

But if you like Italian cookies, then it’s not just a day for Catholics.

In the northeast neighborhood, three churches – Holy Rosary, Saint Anthony and Holy Cross – will each celebrate an old Sicilian tradition on March 18 and 19. The celebrations begin with first, a blessing of the St. Joseph’s table on Tuesday, March 18. The tradition began during the Middles Ages, when families in Sicily built an altar to St. Joseph after he answered their prayers to save them from a severe famine. The altar is typically covered with food and pastries, most often Sicilian delicacies, and flowers.

The tradition has since grown into a more community event. Evelyn VanDierendonk, office manager at Holy Rosary, said non Catholics come for the Italian cookies.

On Wednesday, March 19, the churches will then honor Saint Joseph with a mass. Here is a list and a schedule of the area parishes participating in Saint Joseph festivities:

• Holy Rosary Parish Celebration will begin with the blessing of the table in the afternoon. The table will remain open for viewing and the purchase of cookies and cannoli until 8 p.m. On March 19, the parish will honor Saint Joseph with a mass at 10 a.m., followed by a free lunch, which will include pasta milanese, from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. at Scalabrini Hall, 910 Pacific St. A good will offering will be accepted. Viewing of the table and purchase of cookies and cannoli will continue until 6 p.m.

• Saint Anthony Parish will host its table viewing from 2 – 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 18. During the viewing, cookies, cannoli and sfingi will be available for purchase. At 7 p.m., enjoy an Italian music concert inside Saint Anthony Church. On the following day, the church will hold a mass in honor of Saint Joseph at 8 a.m., followed by the blessing of the table. Beginning at 11 a.m. and lasting through 7 p.m. will be the pasta milanese dinner in the hall. Donations are welcome and all proceeds will benefit the needy.

• Holy Cross Parish will host a condensed version of the festivities with the mass followed by the viewing and serving on Wednesday, March 19. The mass will take place at 8:30 a.m. followed by the serving beginning at 11 a.m. and going until 5 p.m. with a traditional pasta milanese dinner. Deacon Danny Esteban said the serving is free, but a good will offering will be accepted. He said cookies and cannolis will also be available to purchase. He added the Saint Joseph festivities are a community favorite, that also carry a friendly competition among the churches to see which has the best food.