The St. Jude Society of St Mary Magdalen Parish will hold its fall novenas Monday, Oct. 16, to Tuesday, Oct. 24, at St. Mary Magdalen, 6425 W. Metairie Ave., Metairie.

Leading the novena will be Rev. Sidney Speaks, associate pastor of St. Matthew the Apostle Church in River Ridge.

The St. Jude Society, and then the subsequent St. Jude Novena, were organized in the 1980s by Toni Ancona, said Ancona's daughter, Judy Ancona Serio, 

Toni Ancona was 95 when she died June 30, 2016.

The society has more than 200 active and inactive members.

“The first novena was held in October 1989, and then every June and October following,” Serio said. “None of the novenas have ever been canceled, even the October novena following Katrina went on as scheduled.”

St. Jude is known as the patron saint of hopeless causes.

“In my mother’s book, ‘St. Jude and His People,’ she tells many stories of how her prayers were answered by St. Jude,” Serio said. “In fact, she starts off by explaining that the reason she started her devotion to St. Jude was because of her promise to him as a ‘thank you’ because her wish to spare my father’s life was granted.

“We have a lady in the St. Jude Society who last year developed a serious problem with hearing, dizziness and became immobile. Doctors were puzzled and unable to help. In the middle of the novena, she said all those problems disappeared. So I really feel St. Jude intercedes in many ways.”

In addition to organizing the novenas, members of the St. Jude Society help feed the poor by giving out food baskets every week, sponsor Christmas, Mardi Gras and Easter parties at the Veterans Administration hospital, purchase two bullet proof vests each year for local police, print a monthly newsletter and monitor a prayer line.

“The St. Jude Society built a prayer garden on the grounds of St. Mary Magdalen Church,” Serio added. “It has a beautiful Shrine of St. Jude enclosed in the garden, and anyone is welcome to have a private moment and light a candle.

“We also have a baby layette committee, providing a starter kit with beginner items that are given when requested to help new mothers in need. And we try to help St. Mary Magdalen Church and School whenever asked because they have generously allowed us to build our gift shop, prayer garden and meeting building on their grounds.”

The group meets the fourth Wednesday of every month at 7 p.m. at St. Mary Magdalen. Dues are $12 per year.

The October novena scheduled is:

12:15 p.m. weekdays for novena only, and 6:30 p.m. weekdays for Mass and novena.

12:15 p.m. for Saturday novena only and 4 p.m. for Mass and novena.

11 a.m. for Sunday Mass and novena, and 6:30 p.m. for Mass and novena.

“My mother was a force of energy, creativity and an unstoppable determination to spread the word about St. Jude,” Serio said.

"My mother truly loved the St. Jude Society and the members, and I know her vision was even greater. And had she lived another 20 years after her 95th birthday, she would she would have made those visions come true.

“It is very important for me to keep this organization going for many reasons. I saw my mom on her St. Jude mission for 51 years of giving so it’s very hard to ignore that. Many of these St. Jude members have worked side by side with my mother and I am so appreciative of that because they did help to contribute in making my mom’s dream come true by following her lead.”

To join the St. Jude Society, call St.Mary Magdalen at (504) 733- 0922 or call Serio at (504) 442 4429 or email

Bridge City Gumbo fest

A reminder that the Bridge City Gumbo Festival is Friday through Sunday on the grounds of Holy Guardian Angels Church, 1701 Bridge City Ave., Bridge City.

Gates open at 6 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and noon on Sunday.

There will be games, arts and crafts, food, refreshments, rides and music. The gumbo-cooking contest begins at noon Saturday. And on Sunday, the beautiful child contest begins at 10 a.m.

Admission is $3 per person.

For more information, go to the website

St. Catherine class reunion

The St. Catherine of Siena class of 1962 will be celebrate its 55-year reunion from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday in the Melancon Center on the school grounds, 105 Bonnabel Blvd., Old Metairie.

The cost is $30 per person.

For more information, email Carol Falati Gutelius at for further information.

Eva Jacob Barkoff writes about the people and events in Jefferson Parish. She can be reached at