An Altar of Our Own

By Jenny Dendinger


When COVID-19 first hit, churches everywhere made the painful decision to cancel their Saint Joseph altars. Despite being disappointed, our family decided to honor St. Joseph by building our own altar at home.

Since we were trying our best to isolate, it meant working with what we already had in the house. Much to my surprise, our limited options actually increased the excitement of pulling everything together.

First, we gathered all of the bread, cookies, candies, fruits, and vegetables we could find.  Then we collected our favorite statues, religious pictures, and rosaries.

Since our house is so small, I tossed out the crazy idea to set up our altar in the front yard. The kids all cheered at my suggestion. Not only would there be more space, but it would give anyone passing by the chance to enjoy it with us!

Since offering a meal wasn’t possible, we did the next best thing. We set out a basket filled with toilet paper.  At the time, this necessary commodity was incredibly difficult to find, and I knew it would be the perfect way to show our love of neighbor!

As the altar came together, my kids’ faces were beaming with pride. It definitely wasn’t as magnificent as what we usually see at church, but there was beauty and love in our efforts.

Our little altar had quite a few admirers that day. It was such a blessing to see neighbors stop by and pray! Most of them laughed at our toilet paper offer, but we did have someone ask if it was really OK to take a roll. I assured him (from a distance) that he could absolutely have as much as he needed. The gratefulness in his voice as he grabbed a few rolls was almost too much for my heart to bear.

While I’m thrilled to report that we are back to planning and preparing an altar at church this year, I will always cherish the memories we made building our own. Our altar proved to be a beautiful reminder that often in our disappointments, God has hidden blessings.

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