Deacon Robert Malone looks on as Fr. Fred Anthony blesses the altar/table of St. Joseph on his feast day, March 19. (Courtesy Alex Paul)
Deacon Robert Malone looks on as Fr. Fred Anthony blesses the altar/table of St. Joseph on his feast day, March 19. (Courtesy Alex Paul)
SWEET HOME — After months of waiting and praying, the people of St. Helen Parish welcomed St. Joseph in time for his feast day.

Last fall, as the Year of St. Joseph was nearing its end, a group of parishioners wanted to honor the spouse of the Blessed Virgin Mary and foster father of Jesus in a special way.

The small-town church did not have a statue of St. Joseph, and the group felt it would be a blessing to have one. After searching catalogues and finding a picture of a 48-inch St. Joseph Basilica Statue, they shared it with other parishioners, who became just as excited about the beautiful statue as they were.

Parishioners gathered the funds necessary to make the purchase, and the order was placed in anticipation that St. Joseph would arrive at St. Helen’s in early 2022 at the latest.

The New Year came and went, but there was still no statue. Numerous calls to the company revealed that it had been back ordered and would not be back in stock until late February, with a promised de-livery in early April.

Undaunted, parishioners pressed on, still planning for a special celebration of the March 19 Solemnity of St. Joseph, which would include a Mass followed by a dinner featuring a three-tiered table.

The top tier would hold an image of St. Joseph (hopefully the statue), carpentry tools, candles and lilies; the middle tier would hold baskets for prayer petitions and donations for the poor; and the bot-tom tier a variety of traditional foods associated with St. Joseph.

During the first week of March, St. Helen’s was notified that the price of the statue had increased. It would have to be reordered at the higher price, after which it would not arrive for an additional six to eight weeks.

To say this news was disappointing would be an understatement, but it seemed that God had a plan. An online search revealed that the same statue could probably be purchased from other companies. Then, to everyone’s surprise, the secretary unexpectedly found it listed, in of all places, at Amazon.

St. Joseph arrived safely at St. Helen’s just three days later, just in time for his feast day. The statue was blessed by the pastor, Father Fred Anthony, during the Mass. The parishioners processed into the hall reciting a Litany of St. Joseph and following the Knights of Columbus, who carried the statue on a hand-made wooden platform with poles. In the hall, the statue was given the place of honor on the top tier of the table, which was then blessed as well.

An amazing feast of salmon, shrimp, eggs, pasta, olives, artichokes, lemons, salads, soup, cake and pastries was followed by many prayer requests to St. Joseph. Money was raised to help the poor and homeless served by Sweet Home Emergencies Ministries and the Manna Meals program.

Shantz is administrative assistant at St. Helen Parish. She previously lived in British Columbia, where she worked with people in recovery and wrote at times for the B.C. Catholic.