Monday, March 23, 2015

Blessing of St. Joseph's Altar held at St. Bernard Middle School

Cullman, AL.   Students at St. Bernard Middle School held their annual Blessing of the St. Joseph’s Table recently.  The blessing was given by School President, Fr. Joel Martin, O.S.B., who described St. Joseph as a righteous man.

Fr. Joel asked the students to learn from St. Joseph who lovingly accepted Mary as his wife after Mary said “yes” to God, making possible the birth of Jesus, God among us.  By accepting and loving Mary, St. Joseph welcomed God to this world.

By imitating Joseph and Mary, the students responded to God with their own generosity by donating food items for those in need, showing God’s love.   Fr. Joel blessed the food offered for the poor, and also blessed the students who make God present in the lives of others.

The St. Joseph Altar or St. Joseph Table is an old tradition that began in Sicily.  During the Middle Ages a draught threatened to bring about a severe famine.  Only a sea of dust and withered vines remained from what had once been row upon row of brightly colored fruits and vegetables.

And so the people prayed.  They especially called on St. Joseph, considered their patron, to intercede for them, pleading for relief from the famine that gripped the island. At last the rains came and the people rejoiced.  Sometime later, to show their gratitude, they prepared a table in honor of St. Joseph; it held a special assortment of foods they had harvested, which were then distributed to those less fortunate.  The ancient custom is still celebrated, and though Sicilian immigrants introduced the tradition to America, the celebration is not confined to any nationality, but has become a popular custom for many Catholics in America.

Religion instructor, Miss Martha Ann Warnke heads  the celebration as a service project for students at the Middle School during second semester as well as a issues a grade as part  of religion class.   A thermometer hangs in the foyer of the school and keeps a mark for each 10 food items contributed by students.

St. Bernard students contributed 400 canned food items which was donated to the St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank in Cullman.   Teachers at the school contributed another 70 cans.

Cullman, AL    St. Bernard Preparatory School is set to host the 31st Annual Bloomin’ Festival Arts and Crafts Fair on April 18-19, 2015.  The festival has received the honor of again being recognized this year by the Southeastern Tourism Society as being one of the Top 20 Events in the Southeast.  The Southeastern Tourism Society is dedicated to marketing and promoting travel within the Southeastern United States.
“The festival is off to an incredible start this year,” said Joyce Nix, Festival Director.   “Almost all booths were filled before the end of 2014.  Not only do we have a wide variety of exhibitors, the quality of their work is exceptional.”
“We have several new and incredibly talented artist participating in the weekend show,” Nix said.  “It truly is a must-see event.”
Pottery, apparel, paintings, portrait artist, jewelry, glass blowers, blacksmith, leatherworks, furniture, wooden toys, birdhouses and metal art work are just a few of the handmade items that will be featured during the show.
The monks are busy making bread and rosaries, while organizers are lining up volunteers, completing the rentals of tents, and attending to the many details of the 2015 marketing campaign.
A 2015 Jeep Patriot will be given away at the end of the show along with a GoPro Hero 3 Camera, Nextbook 8” Tablet and an iPod shuffle. 
Ave Maria Grotto will be open for a reduced admission price of only $3 per person. 
A donation of $5 per person is requested upon entering the gates to the festival.
“We encourage everyone to come early and spend the day at St. Bernard.  There will be plenty of food to include BBQ Chicken, polish dogs, hamburgers, hotdogs, strawberry waffles, funnel cakes, roasted almonds, topped off with Pepsi products or a glass of freshly squeezed lemonade,” continued Nix.
All proceeds benefit St. Bernard Prep School.  For more information visit the festival website at or call 256-739-6682.
The festival is held rain or shine.