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By Margaret Toal
For the Record 

Public invited to St. Joseph Altar on Sunday


Last updated 3/14/2023 at 6:10pm

Some of the women who help prepare the St. Joseph Altar last year at St. Mary Catholic Church pose with their tribute to the saint. The feast is a longtime Italian tradition for helping their ancestors avoid a famine.

For the past few weeks, women across Orange have been making cookies. They are careful about the spices in the jammy fig filling r or the citrus flavorings that have been handed down in recipes from their grandmothers and great-grandmothers.

Others are preparing to fry vegetables, or their letting spaghetti sauces meld flavors together in the refrigerator, or preparing breads in artistic shapes.

A centuries-old Italian tradition once held in homes has become a regular community event for St. Mary Catholic Church in Orange. On Sunday, the church is inviting people to attend the annual St. Joseph Feast.

Italian families have had roots in Orange for more than a century. Names like Blanda, Mazzola, Lucia, Todaro, and Rao are familiar. They brought with them their traditions of the special feast day honoring St. Joseph, the husband of the Virgin Mary and the man who raised Jesus.

The feast is especially dear to those from Southern Italy and Sicilians. The legend has that the area was facing a famine because of a drought. Prayers to St. Joseph asking for rain were answered. The crops were saved and a special feast was held in his honor.

St. Joseph Feast Day is March 19, during the Lent season, so no meat is served. However, fish dishes are traditional, along with pounds of pasta with red sauce.

A special altar with flowers and religious icons is set up to honor St. Joseph and prayers are given.

St. Mary Church will open the altar at 10 a.m. Sunday in the parish hall. At 10:30 a.m., the St. Joseph Chaplet will be recited. Father Anthony Paulise will give the blessing at 11 a.m. Then at 11:20 a.m. "representatives of the saints" will be served. The general public will be served at a buffet at 11:45 a.m. Donations will be accepted and extra Italian cookies to take home will be sold.


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