The tradition of creating a St. Joseph's table arrived in Kansas City over a century ago, with the arrival of immigrants from Sicily. The custom had begun years earlier in Sicily, after a devastating famine had ended -- according to legend -- when villagers prayed for the intercession of the saint. After that, a feast of thanksgiving was prepared on the feast of St. Joseph to celebrate the answered prayers.
Several area churches in the metro will host St. Joseph's tables tomorrow (and, for a few, on Saturday as well) that are open to the public. Many of the events offer meals and the sale of baked goods.
"In the early days in America," says the Rev. Glenn Mueller of Guardian Angels parish, "these tributes were created in individual homes, in thanksgiving for a prayer that was answered. It might have been a cure for an illness or the joy of a son returning home from war. Older Sicilian women would bake for days, creating a tableau of pastries, and friends would come by and look, leaving a donation. At the end of the day, all of the donations and the pastries were donated to the poor.
"Later, churches took on the events," Mueller says, "and they became much more elaborate. I know that in the old Italian parish in Columbus Park -- Holy Rosary Parish -- the Italian ladies would bake for days to create a spectacular table. Many of those ladies have passed away, but the tradition continues."
Holy Rosary will host a St. Joseph's Table tomorrow and Saturday in Scalabrini Hall at 910 Pacific Avenue (one block north of Independence Avenue) featuring homemade cookies and cannoli for sale. The Friday event runs from 4 to 8 p.m. On Saturday, the event begins at 10 a.m. and includes a free pasta Milanese lunch from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. (a free-will offering will be accepted).
For the other St. Joseph's tables in the metro, the Catholic Key has created a list that can be found by clicking here.