The statue of St. Joseph in our church is part of the legacy from the St. Monica’s African-American congregation, formed downtown in 1930. A number of the members of that old parish – which had been entrusted to the Dominican Fathers from its beginning – joined with a group of Caucasians in South East Raleigh to form the new parish founded by Bishop Waters in that turbulent time – 1968 – when institutions political, educational, social, and religious were shaken by historic events. The statue of St. Joseph – always on a pedestal – received a votive altar in the expansion of the church in 2008. And three years later in 2011, the shrine was enhanced by most remarkable old woodwork from Indonesia, renowned for its magnificent timber and legendary artisan carpenters. Msgr. John Williams first spotted the piece some years in a warehouse in Jupiter, Florida, owned by a regionally important Dutch importer of antique furnishings from the Netherlands and the old “East Indies.”
When the Youth of St. Joseph’s performed the benefit play Rutherford Wolf in the spring of 2011, the proceeds gained were just enough to purchase the item after a very good deal was brokered, and, before that, quite a number of consults.
The pieces were shipped to St. Joseph’s promptly, where they awaited the propitious moment of assembly: Advent, 2011. Many steps needed to be taken for the proper installation of this project, and Ray Kelling and a group of men were there for the execution of the various phases. The painstakingly careful cleansing – and bringing to lustre – of the woodwork was undertaken by Josephine Pope, who also chose the perfect fabric needed to complete the reredos and made it to fit.
The altar cloth, made by Lorraine Richardson, for the re-dedication of the Church three years ago, remains, of course, in place. She sewed it from a fine German vestment that our church had inherited from a deceased priest. The altar of St. Joseph once held the tabernacle before the marble “altar of reservation” was installed in the new apse. St. Joseph’s knows something about recycling!