By Christine Bordelon, Clarion Herald
More than 100 alumni, students, family and friends have been gathering on Saturday mornings for three consecutive Saturdays to prepare for the annual St. Joseph Altar at Archbishop Chapelle High School that will be open March 18-19.
The altar, in its eighth year, has grown from a small offering in the library to taking up almost the entire school gym.
Volunteers make a total of 16,000 fig cookies and 14,000 each of almond cookies and seed cookies, using 472 pounds of flour, 672 eggs and 300 pounds of sugar, said altar organizer and the school’s executive director of finance Michelle Lambert, who has worked on the altar with her family since it started.
Lambert, who is of Italian descent, said there is a 15-person committee that meets after the altar each year to plan for the next one “while everything is fresh in our mind, and we talk about what we are going to do better and set days to reserve the cafeteria for baking.”
Chapelle’s altar, like the many St. Joseph altars in the Archdiocese of New Orleans, is a labor of love that unifies. This altar not only unites students and those associated with Archbishop Chapelle but also parishioners of nearby Catholic church parishes. Altar proceeds are used to donate $300 each to 18 parishes to help families in need.
“It’s a big community project,” Lambert said. “That’s what we like about it. We serve a meal after each baking day. It’s community building.”
Ingenuity speeds process
Committed volunteers have also added their unique touches to make the altar better. Joe Gaillard, whose two daughters are Chapelle graduates, makes shellacked chickpea rosaries and crosses on a stand and keeps the cookie-making operations running smoothly.
A few years ago, he devised wood and metal tools to slice the cookies evenly, and even created dipping machines so multiple cookies can be iced simultaneously and dry quicker.
“This saves time when icing,” Lambert said. “When we first started to put icing on the cookies, we used to be here until wee hours in the morning.” They now finish at 2 p.m. every baking day.
To get students involved at a younger age, the St. Joseph Altar committee reached out to eighth graders in 2018 during the summer program called “ChipStart.” The committee created a PowerPoint presentation to familiarize new students with altar traditions. Students then made rosaries and painted fava beans for the altar.
To reinforce that activity, during Chapelle’s religion classes, eighth graders were asked to either draw a picture or write a poem or essay about St. Joseph. Several will be on display in the gym “in hopes more eighth graders will come out and learn more about the altar,” Lambert said. As a result, several volunteered during cookie days this year.
In addition to its main altar, Chapelle creates a rosary table with white and blue candles in the shape of the rosary around a statue of the Blessed Mother. On the first night of the altar, the only light in the gym will be the rosary candles. Each one is extinguished as the beads of the rosary are said. A separate table containing a frame with the names of deceased members of each Chapelle graduating class is also erected.
“It’s nice to see all the families,” said alumna Michele Malbrough, whose daughters attended Chapelle. “I remember going with my grandparents to St. Joseph Altars, and we are here with their girls and their grandparents.”
Christine Bordelon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
St. Joseph Altars
The following parishes, schools and entities of the Archdiocese of New Orleans will host altars:
ST. JOSEPH CHURCH AND SHRINE, 610 Sixth St., Gretna: Altar in the gymnasium, 7th and Newton streets. Prepared by St. Joseph Women’s Club. March 18, public viewing only, 6-7:30 p.m.; March 19, 10 a.m. Mass, Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond, presiding, followed by blessing, then meals served from noon until 6 p.m.
ACADEMY OF THE SACRED HEART, 4301 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans (Nims Fine Arts Center): Open to the public March 19 with meals served 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
ANNUNCIATION, Bogalusa: B and C Hall, 139 Cumberland St., sponsored by the Bogalusa Italian-American Association. Open to the public March 15-16. March 15, altar opens at 6:30 p.m. with blessing of altar at 7 p.m. March 16, altar opens at 11 a.m. Pasta Milanese meals served at noon.
ARCHBISHOP CHAPELLE HIGH SCHOOL (gymnasium), 8800 Veterans Memorial Blvd., March 18, with viewing from noon-8 p.m., blessing at noon, rosary at 7 p.m.; March 19 altar viewing, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., with Tupa Tupa at noon, followed by meals in the cafeteria. 8800 Veterans Blvd., Metairie. 467-3105.
ASCENSION OF OUR LORD, 1900 Greenwood Drive, LaPlace (Piovan Hall): March 15, altar blessing after 8:30 a.m. school Mass with viewing until 3 p.m.; viewing reopens from 6-8 p.m. with Stations of the Cross at 7 p.m. March 16, viewing from noon-5:30 p.m. (Mass at 4 p.m.) March 17, viewing from 8 a.m.-noon. (8:30 and 10:30 a.m. Masses). Tupa Tupa follows 10:30 a.m. Mass, then KC Council 9623 will serve meatless meal. Meal donations received will help support local seminarians. Altar proceeds will be sent to Saltillo, Mexico, missions in honor of deceased founding pastor, Father Benny Piovan.
BLESSED FRANCIS SEELOS CHURCH, 3037 Dauphine St., New Orleans (parish hall): March 18, viewing 9 a.m.-4 p.m.; March 19, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., noon blessing, then meals served.
BROTHER MARTIN HIGH SCHOOL, 4401 Elysian Fields Ave., New Orleans (chapel): March 18, 7:25 a.m. opening Mass, open to the public at 8 a.m. with blessing and viewing until 6 p.m. Viewing March 19 from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Donations go to the Brothers of the Sacred Heart Missions in the U.S. and worldwide.
CABRINI HIGH SCHOOL, 1400 Moss St., New Orleans: March 19, blessing at 9 a.m. with viewing until 7 p.m. and meals served at 5 p.m. in the chapel.
DE LA SALLE HIGH SCHOOL, 5300 St. Charles Ave. (school lobby), New Orleans: March 19, viewing 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Blessing at 9:30 a.m. Tupa Tupa Holy Family playlet, rosary at 11:30 a.m.
DIVINE MERCY, 4337 Sal Yenni Blvd., Kenner, in the church: March 17, blessing after 6 p.m. Mass followed by Tupa Tupa and viewing until 7 p.m.; March 18 and 19, viewing from noon to 7 p.m. Spaghetti dinner on March 19 from 4-6 p.m., sponsored by St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Home and School Association and Divine Mercy Men’s Club. Suggested donation $6/plate.
GOOD SHEPHERD: (St. Stephen Church), 1025 Napoleon Ave., New Orleans: Viewing March 19, during Sunday Masses; March 19, blessing after the 9 a.m. Mass and viewing until 4:45 p.m. Meals served at 11:30 a.m.
HOLY CROSS SCHOOL, 5500 Paris Ave., New Orleans (first floor of Administration Building): March 19, viewing from 9 a.m.-2 p.m., blessing immediately following the 9:10 a.m. school Mass.
HOLY FAMILY, 1220 14th Ave., Franklinton (church hall): March 19, 10 a.m. Mass, followed by the blessing, with meals served from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
HOLY GUARDIAN ANGELS, 1701 Bridge City Ave., Bridge City: March 18, 5 p.m. vigil Mass; March 19, serving from 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
IMMACULATE CONCEPTION, 130 Baronne St., New Orleans (Lenes Hall): March 17, viewing 8 a.m.-noon; March 18, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.; March 19, 8 a.m.-noon, with altar blessing and lunch for the needy at 12:30 p.m.
LOYOLA UNIVERSITY NEW ORLEANS, 6363 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans (Danna Center): March 19, public viewing 11 a.m.-4 p.m. with blessing at 1 p.m. Sponsored by Loyola University/Sodexo Dining Services.
METAIRIE MANOR, 4929 York St., Metairie (Christopher Homes): March 18-19, public viewing 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
MOST HOLY TRINITY, 501 Holy Trinity Drive, Covington: March 19, blessing at 9:30 a.m., public viewing from 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Meals served 10:30 a.m.
MOUNT CARMEL ACADEMY, 7027 Milne Blvd., New Orleans (enter at marked gate): March 19 in Café Campbell, blessing at 7:30 a.m., followed by viewing until 6 p.m. Parking available on Milne Boulevard. No meals served to public.
OUR LADY OF THE ANGELS, 6851 River Road, Waggaman (church hall): March 19, public viewing and meals served from noon to 6 p.m.
OUR LADY OF DIVINE PROVIDENCE SCHOOL, 917 N. Atlanta St., Metairie (Bahan Center): March 19, 9 a.m. Mass followed by blessing at 10 a.m.
OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE/ST. JUDE SHRINE, (St. Jude Hall), 410 Basin St., New Orleans: March 19, blessing after 7:30 a.m. Mass with viewing until 4:30 p.m. Meals served for all after noon Mass.
OUR LADY OF LOURDES, 345 Westchester Blvd., Slidell, (school gym): March 16, blessing at 11 a.m.; public viewing and meals served from noon-6 p.m.
OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL HELP, 1908 Short St., Kenner (Larose Center): March 17, 3 p.m. blessing; viewing March 17, 3-7 p.m.; March 18, 9 a.m.-7 p.m.; March 19, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. March 19, Tupa Tupa at noon, with meals served at 1 p.m.
OUR LADY OF PROMPT SUCCOR, 531 Avenue A, Westwego: March 19, 8 a.m. Mass followed by altar blessing in cafeteria and meals.
OUR LADY OF THE ANGELS, 6851 River Road, Waggaman: March 19, public viewing and meals from noon-6 p.m.
OUR LADY OF THE HOLY ROSARY, #1 Rectory Lane, Hahnville (Community Center): March 19, viewing 8 a.m., Father Joel Cantones, pastor, will bless altar at 10 a.m. Meals served beginning at noon; closes 6 p.m.
OUR LADY STAR OF THE SEA, 1835 St. Roch Ave., New Orleans: Sponsored by Ladies Guild. Open March 16, blessing at 9 a.m. with viewing until 4 p.m. Mass; March 17, viewing after 10 a.m. Mass; March 19, viewing 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m.
SACRED HEART, 28088 Main St., Lacombe: March 19, public viewing 9 a.m.-7 p.m., blessing at 4 p.m., with meals served from 4:30-6:30 p.m.
ST. ALPHONSUS (St. Mary’s Assumption Church), 923 Josephine St.: March 18, blessing at 5 p.m.; March 19, open 10 a.m.-noon with meals served in garden at noon.
ST. ANGELA MERICI, 901 Beverly Garden Drive (Kern Center): Public viewing March 18, 6-8:30 p.m. with candlelight rosary at 7 p.m. March 19, viewing from 10 a.m.-8:30 p.m. with traditional Italian meal served 11:15 a.m.-7 p.m.
ST. ANSELM, 306 St. Mary St., Madisonville (St. Joseph Hall): Sponsored by St. Joseph Guild. March 16, blessing at 5 p.m., with viewing and meals served March 17, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
ST. ANTHONY, 2653 Jean Lafitte Blvd., Lafitte (St. Anthony Hall): March 18, blessing at 6:30 p.m. Meal and cookies will be served. March 19, viewing and food served from 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m., closing with rosary at 6 p.m.
ST. ANTHONY OF PADUA, 234 Angus Drive, Luling (C.A. Building): March 17, blessing following 10:30 a.m. Mass with viewing and meals until 3 p.m. March 19, viewing 6 a.m.-6 p.m. with meals at 11:30 a.m.
ST. AUGUSTINE CHURCH, 1210 Gov. Nicholls St., New Orleans: March 19, viewing beginning 11 a.m. with blessing at noon. Meals served following blessing in the courtyard near the Tomb of the Unknown Slave.
ST. CATHERINE OF SIENA (Melancon Center, 1643 Metairie Road): March 18, blessing after 9 a.m. Mass, then open until 4 p.m.; open for viewing March 19, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Meal served from 4:30-7 p.m.
ST. CHARLES BORROMEO, 13396 River Road, Destrehan (Borromeo Room): March 18, blessing after 8:15 a.m. Mass, with viewing from 9 a.m.-7:30 p.m.; March 19, viewing 9 a.m.-7:30 p.m. Meals will be served in the cafeteria from 5-7 p.m. St. Joseph Altar Society sponsors.
ST. CLETUS, 3600 Claire Ave., Gretna (Jerome Hall): March 18, 6 p.m. blessing. March 19, viewing 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., with meals served until food runs out.
ST. DOMINIC, 775 Harrison Ave., New Orleans: St. Dominic Rosary Altar Society hosting. March 16, blessing after 4 p.m. vigil Mass. Open for public viewing March 17-19, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
ST. FRANCIS XAVIER, 444 Metairie Road, Metairie (school auditorium): St. Joseph Altar Society sponsors. Viewing March 18, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; March 19, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tupa Tupa March 19 following 8 a.m. Mass. Public feeding March 19 only, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.
ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI, New Orleans: Altar at home of Joseph and Mary Talamo, 6122 1/2 Patton St. March 18, blessing at 6 p.m., with viewing until 7 p.m. March 19, viewing from 1-5 p.m. Also, altar at AVO Restaurant, 5908 Magazine St., with blessing March 19, 11 a.m., public viewing 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
ST. GABRIEL THE ARCHANGEL, 5029 Louisa St., New Orleans: Viewing March 18 and 19, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Altar will be blessed March 16 during the 4 p.m. vigil Mass. Food from the altar will be donated to a homeless shelter.
ST. GENEVIEVE, 58203, Slidell (Parish Life Center): March 18, altar blessing after 6 p.m. Mass. March 19, public viewing and meals served 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
ST. GERTRUDE, 17292 Hwy. 631, Des Allemands (Father Mac Community Center): Sponsored by Ladies Altar Society, friends. March 17, 10:30 a.m. blessing, meals served from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Viewing continues until 2 p.m.
ST. JANE DE CHANTAL, 72040 Maple St., Abita Springs (St. Jane Hall): March 18, public viewing 4-6 p.m. with cookies and coffee served. March 19, Mass at 8 a.m.; viewing noon-4 p.m. and meals served until food runs out. Donations support St. Vincent de Paul Society.
ST. JOAN OF ARC, 529 W. 5th St., LaPlace (Family Life Center): March 18, viewing times 8 a.m.-noon; and 6-8 p.m. with blessing at 7 p.m.; and March 19, from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. viewing. Meatless meals served March 19 from 11:45 a.m.-6 p.m.
ST. JOSEPH, 1802 Tulane Ave., New Orleans: March 19, altar will be open for viewing from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. in church, with St. Joseph Feast Day Mass and blessing at noon. Spaghetti dinners will be served in the Rebuild Center immediately following the Mass. Donations received will benefit the Vincentian Scholarship Fund and Free Indeed, a safe haven for people suffering from human trafficking.
ST. JOSEPH THE WORKER, 455 Ames Blvd., Marrero: March 19, altar in the hall with blessing by Father Eugene Jacques, pastor, at 8:30 a.m., followed by adoration and viewing from 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
ST. LUKE THE EVANGELIST, 910 Cross Gates Blvd., Slidell (Family Life Center): Viewing in Family Life Center March 19. Altar will be blessed after the 10 a.m. Mass, with meals served after the blessing. CORRECTION: Previous listing included March 20 activities. There are NO altar-related events on March 20.
ST. PAUL THE APOSTLE, 6828 Chef Menteur Hwy., New Orleans: March 19, blessing at 8 a.m. with public viewing until 5 p.m., with meals served at noon.
ST. PATRICK, 724 Camp St., New Orleans (Reynolds Hall): Public viewing following noon Mass on March 18. March 19, blessing at 12:30 p.m.
ST. PATRICK CHURCH, March 17, 11 a.m.-1 p.m., with the meal at 11:15 a.m. in the Family Life Center, 28698 Hwy. 23, Port Sulphur.
ST. RITA PARISH, 7100 Jefferson Hwy., Harahan (Msgr. Champagne Community Room): March 19, blessing at 9 a.m. with public viewing until 6 p.m. Meals will be served from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
STS. PETER AND PAUL, 66192 St. Mary St., Pearl River: March 19, blessing at 10 a.m. followed by Tupa Tupa with feeding of the Holy Family, saints and angels. Viewing and meals from 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
ST. PIUS X MISSION, 8154 Barataria Blvd., Crown Point: March 18, altar blessing at 5 p.m.; March 19, viewing and meals served from 10:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.
Home of MARY GULIZO HENNEGAN, family and friends, 1721 Robin St., Marrero. March 19, noon-6 p.m.
BOWLING BRIGHT HOUSE, 2436 St. Bernard Ave., New Orleans, March 19, 2-7 p.m.