Where do our Palm Sunday branches come from?

16 tons of palm branches. That’s what Gregory DiCocco and his family have been working around the clock to prepare for our Palm Sunday worship this weekend. Gregory works at the St. Jude Shop in Havertown, Pennsylvania, and stopped by to share his story with Morning Air®.

Gregory DiCocco with palms
Gregory DiCocco preparing palms at St. Jude Shop

St. Jude Shop has been working around inclement weather to meet all of their delivery deadlines. “Right now we’re in the throws of a major snowstorm—our fourth nor’easter … and thank God we were able to get in the proper planning … and everything got out on Friday of last week. And all the last-minute ones were all taken care of this week,” said DiCocco. “We’re thankful that everything is now in the hands of God and St. Anthony has to deliver everything now.”

It’s a labor-intensive process to prepare the palms that you’ll pick up on your way into Mass on Sunday. “Most of the palm comes in—we call it—buds or bundles. They go out into the woods in our farm down in the central part of Florida and they pick the stalks. From each stalk you’ll be able to get at least 30 to 40 long strips. Now, the stalks are used for … a lot of the traditional way of weaving, the weaving of the big crosses and floral arrangements.”

Palm branches from St. Jude Shop

The St. Jude Shop sells the palm stalks, decorative branches, and the individual pre-cleaned and bagged palm branch strips that many Catholics are used to seeing in their parishes. Some Catholic parishes decorate with the large decorative palm branches on Palm Sunday and throughout Holy Week.

“In addition to the long strips and short strips that are needed are all these other aspects of the palm, other parts of it. It all comes up pre-bagged and we box it in boxes of 2,500 strips per box,” said DiCocco. “This year we got 20 skids of palm, which was 16 and a half tons of goods. We put up a big tent in the back of our store and we have one of the delivery services bring in their big tractor-trailer. We have one week—I have a great staff that we’ve got it down to a science now. The orders are placed from January on and we are labeling every box and numbering everything; we have to stock this tractor-trailer within one-week time. It leaves on a Friday for it to be delivered all this week so they get fresh palm.”

It’s hard work for DiCocco and his team, but he says it’s worth it. “It’s a fascinating thing. It’s another rewarding opportunity to serve Christ and His Church.”