SPS Students, Faculty Find Purpose in St. Joseph’s Altar Tradition

Flowers, baked treats, and candles adorn the St. Joseph’s Altar. (Photo: Jake Arena)

(COVINGTON, La.) — On Monday, March 13, at the Briggs assembly Center, one of the biggest annual religious events at St. Paul’s took place: The St. Joseph’s Altar. Headed by Dr. Ann Kay Logarbo, the altar is set up every year on or near the feast day of St. Joseph.

Logarbo organizes this event every year to carry on a promise made by her mother to St. Joseph. Many years ago, Logarbo’s mother promised to dedicate an event to St. Joseph if he kept her deathly ill brother alive. After the boy’s miraculous recovery, Logarbo’s mother started the event that would soon come to be known throughout the community. Logarbo continues to honor that commitment by organizing the annual event at St. Paul’s School.

“I do it because it was a promise that my mother made 20 years ago for the healing of my oldest brother who was very ill,” Logarbo said. “I get a sense of spiritual fulfillment from doing this, and If one child walks away a little more devoted to St. Joseph, that’s all that matters. It gets harder and harder every year but I enjoy doing it.”

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Religion teacher Chris Sturgill reflects upon the Altar. (Photo: Jake Arena)

The altar consists of a big buffet of meatless foods such as spaghetti and fried fish, situated across from a large altar covered in tons of baked goods and treats, which are crafted in a religious theme. For instance, there are chocolate and cakes made in the shape of religious figures and symbols. Italian treats like cannolis were also made to serve the Sicilian heritage of the St. Joseph’s Altar tradition.

Further, the food served at the event is never wasted, and there are separate garbage cans for the food and the plastic products. The thrown away food is then buried as an offer to God.

It is important to the school administration that every student participate in the special event each year. On the day of the annual school altar, St. Paul’s breaks from the traditional four-class schedule and has a special seven-class schedule so that every Religion class, and therefore every student, can visit and eat from the altar.

“First of all, St. Joseph is a patron saint of Lasallian Schools, and there is a tradition in New Orleans to do St. Joseph’s Altars, and it is in our Sicilian immigrants’ community,” Principal Trevor Watkins said. “Dr. Logarbo is a member of that community and also has a personal devotion to St. Joseph and has vowed to do an altar every year, and we are the lucky beneficiaries of that vow.”

The view of the altar upon entering the Briggs Assembly Center. (Photo: Jake Arena)

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