Our Lady of the Gulf Church celebrates St. Joseph’s Day Altar

Catholics around the world, including right here in South Mississippi, are expressing appreciation to St. Joseph.
Published: Mar. 19, 2023 at 7:21 PM CDT
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BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (WLOX) - Catholics around the world and South Mississippi are expressing appreciation to St. Joseph by preparing elaborate altars with history that dates back generations.

For members of Our Lady of the Gulf Church, the morning began with a sacred mass ceremony led by Fr. Michael O’Connor. A time of payer and reflection later transitioned into a gathering of gratitude at the altar.

The Church’s Angel Ministry Founder JoAnn Hille says OGL’s altar tradition began in her home during the late ‘90s.

“In two years at my home the crowds kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger,” said Hille. “So, then we decided if we go to our church Our Lady the Gulf Church and see if they would like us to bring the St. Joseph altar here and so they did.”

The massive altar stretched 4 feet wide, and 36 feet long and overflowed with religious fixtures, perishable foods, candles, flowers, and fava beans.


According to Rhonda Aime Gamble, a member of the Angel Ministry, “The fava bean is kept traditionally for men in their pocket and women in their purse. And it’s become known as a lucky bean. This tradition goes way back in my family. I even have fava beans that were my great grandmothers.”

Gamble’s great grandmother,88, was in attendance for the altar viewing along with five generations her Italian Family: The Scafidi’s. The family prepared a traditional spaghetti dinner for nearly four hundred guests. Her Relative Anne Scafidi Krankey says this was a special moment.

“This is the first time we’ve ever done this” says Krankey. “We’re having a new tradition sort of speak. It’s all about family; the holy family. Now our family will be represented as the Scafidi family.”

St. Joseph’s Day altars began as a custom that dates back to Middle Ages and spread by many Sicilian immigrants. The tradition continues to be a staple devotion for the Catholic community.

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