St. Joseph Altar Celebration in Des Moines, IA

— Patricia Civitate, Italian-American Cultural Center of Iowa and Director of Il Trattenimento Italiano Folk Dance Troupe

This year marked the 21st anniversary of the St. Joseph Altar Celebration sponsored by the Italian-American Cultural Center of Iowa. This event was successful because of the many hours that numerous volunteers spent making sure that this would be a truly traditional and spiritual undertaking. Sincere thanks to all those who made it happen.

Central St. Joseph Altar

Kathy Foggia and Mary Romanelli began early in February setting up the hall with the backdrop curtains and the three-tiered steps that formed the altar. They covered the steps with linens, attached the table skirts, and then proceeded to add the decorative breads, altar identification cards, and other symbols of faith. John Heldreth and Joseph Boehm donated additional fruits and vegetables and completed the decoration of the altars.

Leo/Marasco family altar
Tumea family altar

Family altar sponsors were the Cordaro, Leo/Marasco, Joseph Tumea, Joseph Tursi, and the John J. Rand, Jr. families. Other altar sponsors were the Italian-American Women of Iowa, Società Vittoria Italiana and their auxiliary, Society of Italian-Americans and their auxiliary, and the Victor Romanelli Knights of Columbus.

Ladies who spent several days and hours making fresh pasta and baking the traditional cookies included Yvonne Aversa, Joanne Caligiuri, Ellen Celsi, Mary DeFazio, Amy Gentosi Copley, Joyce Leto, Sue Ligouri, Therese Riordan, Tammie Sposeto, Gloria Stefani, and Dee Dee Underwood. Nancy Dance and Lucy Cosenza made and donated several St. Joseph traditional Sicilian breads.

Children dressed as the Holy Family, Angels, and Saints from the ‘tupa tupa’ presentation

Following a welcoming greeting by President Paolo Bartesaghi, the children of the Ragazzi Folk Dance Group presented the tupa tupa (knocking) pageant. Dressed as Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, with the angels and saints, they sought food and shelter at the dinner. When they had been welcomed by the guests, they took their place at the table reserved for the Holy Family. Father Chris Fontanini and Deacon Tony Romeo then officiated at an altar blessing ceremony.

Family dinner guests

Special thanks to Capital City Produce, Graziano Brothers Grocery, and Tumea and Sons Restaurant for their generous donations to our altar, dinner, and luncheon.

Hats off to members of the Board of Governors who worked tirelessly in the kitchen and serving guests the night of the dinner. They were joined by volunteers Deb Pane and Teresa Russo-Dyer.

Civitate Family Altar

Mille grazie, everyone. St. Joseph was truly honored and will bless each and every one!

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