St. Joseph's Church goes all out for feast of its patron saint
BY MIKE SPENCE | The Pueblo Chieftain | MARCH. 17, 2018
The aroma of freshly baked pastries tickles the senses the moment you walk into the parish hall at St. Joseph Catholic Church.
Look around, and you see more than two dozen women kneading dough or carrying cookie sheets to or from the oven.
Another glance and you see rows and rows of freshly baked lady fingers cooling.
The room is filled with the constant din of activity, broken occasionally by the whining of a Skil Saw.
What's going on here?
The parish family at St. Joseph Catholic Church is preparing a St. Joseph's Table in honor of the Feast of St. Joseph Day on Monday.
The table will be on display at St. Joseph's Parish Hall, 1145 S. Aspen Road, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday and again from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday.
On this day, the women were busy making approximately 2,400 lady fingers. They spent the morning baking them and the afternoon applying the frosting.
Plates of the pastries will placed on the St. Joseph Table. Some of the pastries also will be set aside to serve to those who come to view the table.
The lady fingers are just one of more than a dozen types of cookies that must be made for the observance. Many other foods also will be included. Work on this year's event began in November, said Pat Klomp, who heads the organizing committee.
"We have the big organizing committee, and we have smaller committees for different jobs," Klomp said.
How many people are involved?
"I don't know," Klomp said. "Whenever I ask someone for help, they never say, 'No.'
"I guess you could say the whole church community works on it."
A look at St. Joseph
Joseph is the husband of Mary and the step-father of Jesus.
When it comes to patron saints, Joseph is one of the busiest. His patronage extends over the Catholic Church, unborn children, fathers, immigrants, workers, employment, explorers, pilgrims, travellers, carpenters, realtors, against doubt and hesitation, and of a happy death, Canada, Croatia, Korea, Indonesia, Zapotlan, Vietnam, Tagbilaran City, Bohol, Mandaue City, Cebu, Philippines -- and, St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Pueblo.
Joseph is important enough to have two feast days.
March 19 St. Joseph is honored as the husband of Mary in Western Christianity. And on May 1, a feast is held in honor of St. Joseph the Worker in the Roman Catholic Church.
Feast of St. Joseph
The feast of St. Joseph originated in Sicily during the Middle Ages.
According to legend, Sicily was enduring an exceptionally severe drought. No rain fell for an extended period of time. No crops would grow. Countless people died of famine.
The peasants prayed to God for rain. They also prayed to St. Joseph to intercede with God on their behalf. They promised that if God caused it to rain, they would have a special feast honoring St. Joseph and Him.
God granted the miracle. The rains came and the crops were planted. With the harvest, the people prepared a feast of foods from their crops.
Through the centuries, people who have prayed for a favor and been granted the favor use this festivity to show their thanks. The favor must not be for personal gain or benefit.
Often times, the request is for the safe return of a soldier, or that a loved one will survive a serious illness or accident.
St. Joseph's celebration
One would think celebrating the Feast of St. Joseph at St. Joseph's Church would be fitting.
In reality, it took the convergence of three "Josephs" to make it happen.
St. Joseph is the patron saint of St. Joseph Catholic Church. But there was no celebration of St. Joseph's Feast until the Rev. Joseph Vigil became pastor at the church.
"Father Joseph came to me one day and said, 'We really need to have a St. Joseph's Table. We're St. Joseph Church,' " Klomp said. "That was in March six years ago. I told him, 'We'll do one, but we'll have to do it next year. We've got to plan it out.' "
That marked the beginning of the of the St. Joseph's Table tradition at St. Joseph's Church. The church has had a table every year for the past five years.
It's no easy undertaking. The foods that are placed on the table are symbolic of the legends associated with St. Joseph and the struggles of the Sicilian peasantry.
There are breads and pastries, wine, spaghetti, rice, fish (no meat because the celebration occurs during Lent), cakes, fruits and vegetables.
Vigil will bless the table during Sunday's service. The public is invited to view the table and enjoy some lady fingers.
"We will have an intentions table, where people can light a candle," Klomp said.
There also will be time for people to visit and share a common heritage within the context of a religious celebration, Klomp said.
"We do this to strengthen our community at St. Joseph's and the local community," Klomp said.
Everyone who attends will be given a fava bean with a cross on it, a St. Joseph medal and a bookmark, Klomp said.
Once the celebration is over, the food will be boxed and taken to the homes of the needy or shut-ins. Some of it is taken to the soup kitchen and another portion is taken to the YWCA. Last year's feast produced 40 boxes of food.
Proof that St. Joseph's patronage knows no bounds.