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Ronald Berry blesses the St. Joseph Altar
—Submitted photos

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Mary and Ronald Berry of Morgan City prepared a St. Joseph Altar at their home as a "labor of love."

Berrys prepare 'A Labor of Love' — St. Joseph Altar

First altar started in 2010 for son's safety

Editor’s Note: This is an article provided by Mary and Ronald Berry in reference to the St. Joseph Altar in their Morgan City home.
A Labor of Love
A Labor of Love is what is known when someone decides to have a St. Joseph Altar/Table. It is an offering of love, labor and sacrifice in honor of the Patron Saint of the Sicilians and the Universal Church.
My name is Mary Margaret Russo Berry and being of Italian heritage, I grew up attending St. Joseph Altars (we always referred to them as a St. Joseph Table). I always wanted to have one and in 2010, my husband, Ronald Berry, and I gave our first one in our home because our son was in the U. S. military and we prayed for his safety.
We were always taught that you never say that you are going to have an altar unless you fulfilled your promise. I knew back then, this is what I wanted and didn’t even tell my husband until a good while into making preparations with the help of our cousins. The reason why I didn’t share this with my husband, is because I knew he would want this too but I thought that he would pressure me in the journey and that would have put a lot of stress on me. Needless, to say that St. Joseph and the Holy Spirit guided us throughout and it was beautiful. It wasn’t until that morning, when the Altar was complete and we were getting ready to greet our family and friends to celebrate this beautiful Feast Day that Ronald said, “you still didn’t promise.” I then said, “OK, St. Joseph, I promise.”
In 2013, our son was indeed kept safe through God’s will and St. Joseph’s intercession during his time of serving our country that we had another Altar in thanksgiving for his safe return. It was even more beautiful than the first one.
In 2018, we had given another altar and this time we included the traditional spaghetti dinner.
In the previous years, we just had the sweets and goodies to share for all.
Well, this brings me to this year, March 2020. With the crisis at hand of this horrific coronavirus and the world canceling events, etc. and Masses, altars, etc., being suspended, I decided on Monday, March 16 and mentioned to Ronald, that I am going to the stores and anything I can get, we are going to have a St. Joseph Altar. I guess it was St. Joseph or the Holy Spirit talking to me or both.
On Tuesday, March 17, the excitement began and I was led every step of the way. Preparations for having a St. Joseph Altar will usually take weeks that is why I know that someone spiritually spoke to me because in four days, we had our Altar put together. Being we could not have a Priest Bless our Altar, Ronald being head of household blessed our 2020 St. Joseph Altar.
In the previous years, we had separate altars built by Ronald and our cousin but as you can see in the attached picture, something as simple as a kitchen table can become a very special tool and make a wonderful memory. This is our fourth St. Joseph Altar and each one was unique in its own special way.
There is always much levity and joyful exchange of camaraderie at visiting a St. Joseph Altar but, unfortunately, we couldn’t share physically with everyone this year; however, please know that you all are in our prayers.
We love St. Joseph and pray for his intercession. Our prayer intentions in making this altar are for an end to this coronavirus ASAP, for restrictions to be lifted and we can return to Mass especially during Holy Week and Easter 2020, recovery of those affected by it, and protection of our love ones, spiritually, physically and emotionally, and any and all of our other intentions.
We pray, Dear Lord, hear our prayers and St. Joseph, please intercede and pray for us. AMEN!!!
May St. Joseph touch your hearts as he has ours. If you haven’t heard or don’t know the history of a St. Joseph Altar. Please “Google” it and you will be glad you did. It is very interesting and even in my 65 years, I am still learning new things about my faith.
God Bless,
Mary Margaret and Ronald Berry

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