After St. Pat’s Day, St. Joseph takes over with lots and lots of sweets

In Kansas City, St. Patrick’s Day has very little to do with religious veneration (although there are almost always spirits involved). Things are a bit more circumspect two days later, when many churches in the metro celebrate the patron saint of Sicily: St. Joseph.

For well over 100 years, Sicilian immigrants living in and around the Columbus Park neighborhood practiced a custom that they had brought with them from their homeland, the tradition of honoring St. Giuseppe. No parades, concerts and revelry are associated with this saint. Legend has it that he answered prayers during a brutal drought. For centuries, Sicilians honored the saint with a lavish feast. Over the years, the feast has been transformed from an eating celebration to a more visual-art form: a St. Joseph’s Table is now more about viewing a display of food than eating it.

But in Kansas City, St. Joseph’s Day festivities have theatrical visual displays (you might call them over-the-top tabletop tableaux) as well as a significant culinary component, with many area churches serving a free (or very inexpensive) pasta dinner on the actual feast day – this year on Thursday, March 19 – and selling a variety of foodstuffs and pastries. It’s a good way to fill up the freezer for nights when there’s a cookie drought in the larder.

The busiest St. Joseph’s Table in town is the granddaddy of all the area presentations: Holy Rosary parish (911 East Missouri) in what was, for much of the last century, the heart of the Sicilian-American community in Columbus Park. The church will hold the St. Joseph’s Table and the pasta dinner (with a meatless, but fish-laden Milanese sauce available), and will sell cookies, freshly made cannoli and other delicacies in Scalabrini Hall from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The sweets often sell out early.

Holy Cross parish (5106 St. John) will serve a pasta meal (with both meatless tomato sauce and Milanese sauce) from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. 

St. Thomas More parish (11822 Holmes) will host, for a free-will offering, a pasta Milanese dinner on March 19 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Cookies and cannoli go on sale at 11 a.m.

In the Westport area, Guardian Angels parish (1310 Westport Road) will host a St. Joseph’s Table and spaghetti dinner (with meatless tomato sauce or Milanese sauce); there’s an extra charge for wine and desserts, from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday, March 19.

A more detailed list of Thursday’s events can be found here at the Catholic Key online.

Categories: Dining, Food & Drink