Christmas Stories

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WELCOMING ALL

And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.

Come together, let us adore the new born King! As we welcome the New Born Savior, let us also welcome one another.

Welcome to visiting families and individuals from near and far. OLG is honored to have you join us. If you simply have shown up: welcome. If you haven’t been in a church for years: welcome. Know that it is Jesus Christ, the new born Savior, who welcomes you; it is Christ who nourishes and feeds your soul and spirit; it is Christ who dwells among us! Welcome. Let us likewise welcome everyone with magnanimity – largeness of soul. For Jesus, even as a tiny infant, has a love that knows no limit.

As we celebrate the day of Christmas, we look forward to that day when we will gather in perfect peace and joy in heaven. In the meantime, we seek to grow this year a bit more holy than last. Let us strive to love God and the Church with greater attentiveness. Let us strive to love one another more ardently. Let us also strive to love the face of Christ especially in the poor, sick and aged, immigrant, lonely and, yes, in our neighbors, co-workers and families too! Jesus was born in a manger – this profoundly tells us of his desire to be with us not only in our “strength” but most especially in our neediness and messiness. May we all personally encounter Jesus, the Prince of Peace.

Please keep in your prayers all those for whom in the midst of Christmas joy also know sorrow, struggle or angst. Remember and pray for those serving in the military and their families, those who’ve experienced a death in their family this year, lost a job or home, or whose families have broken-up. We think of, remember and pray for those residing this Christmas in an elder residence or nursing home, as well as all the sick and especially those on hospice care. While we go about our celebrations, take a moment to pray for all who maybe more desperately need to see the Light of Christmas. May the Blessed Hope of Christmas fill their hearts and
ours – abundantly! 

Finally, I hold you in my prayers this Christmas and every day. May your encounter of Christ fill your soul with joy, permeate your family gatherings and bring you into that the peace of Christ for which He died. With love and affection, for your holy and Merry Christmas, I remain your fellow parishioner.

Father Kevin Finnegan, Pastor


Christmas Memories

When I was nine years old my parents surprised my brother and I by picking us up from school to drive to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida for Christmas. We had no idea we were going, and were completely taken by surprise. In a miracle that can only be attributed to Divine Intervention, my brother and I did not fight once the entire trip there and back! We rode all the cool rides and met all the Disney characters, including my favorite - Goofy. In spite of wandering off and being lost for a few hours, which took a number of years off my mother's life, it was a magical and fun Christmas!

Father Neil Bakker, Parochial Vicar


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CHRISTMAS IN HONDURAS

Honduras, like many other Latin American countries, celebrate Las Posadas during the nine days preceding Christmas Eve.  It’s a reenactment of Joseph and Mary looking for a place to stay, a posada or a inn. Children between 6 and 12 years old dress up as Joseph and Mary, shepherds, animals and angels, and go singing Christmas songs on the street. The entourage knocks on the door of the designed house that night and the Virgin Mary asks for “posada”. The family is at first reluctant and says “there is no place for them in the inn”. After some back and forth and more singing, the family opens the doors and gives the Holy Family, the animals and all those who have gathered around them posada for the night. Once in the house they retell the Christmas story and pray the rosary together. Then the host family offers its hospitality to everyone, with typical dishes like arroz con leche (rice pudding) and catrachas (tostadas with beans and cheese) as everyone continues singing and dancing. The event lasts several hours and is always filled with faith, devotion and fellowship. The event is then repeated for nine consecutive nights, from December 14 through 23. Many families volunteer to be chosen to the be selected as posada for one of the nights.

Often a house that would not fit 30 people hosts more than 100. A humble family offers great hospitality beyond its means.  It’s a beautiful Advent tradition that teaches and celebrates Christmas and brings the community together.

Patricia Alfonzo Mudoy, Chair of the Honduras Committee


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CHRISTMAS IN GHANA

The Christmas season is a period of joyful festivities in Ghana. Beginning from the first week of December, Christmas songs fill the airwaves. Urban centers get congested because of pre-Christmas buying and selling. As kids it is the only time that the lucky ones among us have the rare opportunity to travel to the city of Kumasi for Christmas shopping because shoes and dresses have to be measured to fit, and these were to last you for at least one year.

December 24 and 25 - Christmas

Christmas Eve is a joyful day for kids because most family members traveling home will bring gifts such as bread, sweets and biscuits. It’s also the day the kids erect traditional Christmas trees in the form of make-shift tents made from palm fronds and wooden poles. Many adorn their churches and homes with palm branches and stalks of bananas. 

Many churches also organise church services to commemorate the night on which Christ was born. After church service most children will go through the village with singing, drumming and dancing from one house to the other and the people in the houses will give them gifts such as biscuits, drinks and sometimes money. The day of Christmas is mostly marked by church services. Lucky children get to wear their new dresses, some for the first time in the whole year. 

December 26 - Boxing Day

The day after Christmas children usually wear their new dresses again and adorn themselves with several Christmas ornaments like balloons, hats, toy watches and spectacles. They visit friends and family, moving from house to house to greet and ask for gifts. Some of the gifts we got as kids were crackers (small round biscuits with holes in them). We sometimes joined these with thread and made necklaces. In the past most children looked forward to this day because it was the only day they were blessed to eat rice and a full slice of chicken each or fufu and peanut soup with chicken. These were specially prepared foods with the best of seasonings. We also had a lot of crackers and home-mixed soda, sometimes for the first time in the entire year. 

Various communities also organize activities such as inter-church Christmas soccer competitions. Various churches in the community assemble their best soccer players to compete for a simple trophy. 

Christmas indeed is a great season for all in Ghana, and we are glad the season is here again. The greeting for this period is Afehyiapaaoo and the response is Afe nkomme to yen, which roughly translate into "Happy New Year" and "Hope to see you next New Year", respectively. Wishing you all Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2018 from your sister parish.

Fr. Isaac Nti Asamoah, Assistant Pastor, St. Joseph Parish, Ghana


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GRADE SCHOOL CHRISTMAS WISDOM

  Declan Brown  , OLG School Third Grader

Declan Brown, OLG School Third Grader

  Sophie Hornig   ,  OLG School First Grader

Sophie Hornig, OLG School First Grader

  Connor Lloyd,  OLG School First Grader

Connor Lloyd, OLG School First Grader

  OLG School Kindergartener

OLG School Kindergartener

"Maybe Christmas doesn't just come from the store maybe Christmas Perhaps mean a little bit more." said the Grinch. What let's rewind I think if the Grinch can learn what Christmas really means we can learn too. It is not all about presents or shopping. Sadly a lot of people in the world think that way even though that is the completely wrong way to think.

The thing that Christmas is all about is who created Christmas I will give you a hint it may start with a J than an E after that SUS that is right Jesus Crist he made Christmas shouldn't we be doing more things that involve him for Christmas I mean that was when he was born. It is not like it is called shopping day it should be called God/Jesus day then everyone would know what Christmas is all about. 

People say Merry Christmas have happy holidays they are just thinking of time of off work or traveling. Cant people see the joy of Christmas in each other by going to Church I can't imagine the people that don't go and see their father. God is trying to lift us up into his world and is not just an hour a week that we waste just sitting on our butts, but this is the only time a week that he gets to see us it is just like seeing your parents one hour a week. We are being invited to enter up into his world he is not coming down here. He is not asking for you to pay more attention to him than on your video game but he is just asking for one hour. Christmas is all about visiting him and going up into his world to see Jesus and what he has done for us. Not about presents. 

Do you get it now he loves us he is not trying to torch er us by kneeling if you think that he does not exists really if he did not exist we would not be here? Have you learned your lesson holiday shoppers? It is okay to by presents but that is not what Christmas is all about. It is about getting to spend time with God.

Anne Marie Khoueir, OLG School Sixth Grader

  Claire Daniski  , OLG School Second Grader

Claire Daniski, OLG School Second Grader

  Penn Johnson  , OLG School Third Grader

Penn Johnson, OLG School Third Grader

A lot of kids think that Christmas is all about Santa and getting presents, but really there is much more to Christmas than just receiving gifts. Christmas was the day that Jesus was born. He was born in a manger because there was no room for him in the inn. This is an example of Jesus' humility. Instead of being born with great power and glory, He came as a baby in a manger. Humility is not focusing on the gifts you will receive, but focusing on the ways you can bring joy to others. Christmas is a day to remember Jesus and the sacrifices he made for us. 

Joseph Vaccaro, OLG School Fifth Grader

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  Ames Leber  , OLG School Fourth Grader

Ames Leber, OLG School Fourth Grader

You might think the meaning of Christmas is feasting and getting presents, but unfortunately, you're wrong. Christmas is about Jesus' birth. Yup, that's right. It's his birthday, he has one to, ya know. That's why we go to a long long mass on Christmas Eve. It's a huge celebration just for Jesus. So, that being said: the meaning of Christmas is Jesus' birthday and celebrations for his coming on to the earth. It's the start of his life, the New Testament, the start of a long period of teaching about the right thing to do, ·and loving and Jesus putting his life for ours'. That is the true meaning of Christmas and why it's a huge celebration.

Isabella Yacoub, OLG School Fifth Grader

  Molly Stedman  , OLG School First Grader

Molly Stedman, OLG School First Grader

When your a kid you probably thought christmas was all about presents and santa and christmas cookies but now you know, it’s not about the gifts you receive (even though that is fun) or about the decorations or even the food it’s about baby Jesus and being ready for Jesus to come because you never know when he is coming back to save us. The bible says “for if, when we were enemies of God, we were reconciled to him through the death of his son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved from the end through his life” and even though we do not know when he is coming we should still be prepared.

Quinn Kadue, OLG School Fourth Grader


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HOLY COMPANIONS

It was always the elephant. I could wax into the night about how horses were sleek and fast, and camels could travel long distances through the desert, but to no avail. Every year my three kids would each clamor for the elephant, each claiming they had never traveled with the elephant. Three wise men, three kids. Maybe two out of three had legitimately never had a crack at the elephant, but three out of three seemed statistically impossible.

Each Christmas Eve, when the baby Jesus was placed in the crèche and the star appeared, the wise men begantheir journey. In our house, this meant wise men traveled a circuitous route through the house, with a child as their companion; through bathrooms, laundry rooms, the kitchen, maybe a bedroom or two. They came from distant lands, avoiding the perils of curious dogs, until they arrived at the crèche on Epiphany.

Like the wise men, our life is a journey to Jesus. May yours be with holy companions.

Beryl Schewe, Director of Pastoral Care


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NOT ALL GLITTERS IN GRIEF

It was a simple gift, a red cyclamen in a plastic pot. A small token of remembrance that the widow I was visiting had buried her husband a few months before. When she opened the door, she began to cry. Silent tears came from the corners of her eyes. She did not bother to wipe them away, but simply gestured me in to her immaculate house. “Oh” she said, “thank you, this will be my Christmas decoration. I’m not putting up a tree this year.” Indeed, not a single vestige to Christmas was visible. No wreath, no candles, no tree. No cookies on the counter, no cards displayed. Glitter and twinkle lights had no place in her home this Christmas.

Christmas and grief may seem like odd bedfellows, but in fact they are constant companions. With each ornament we hang from the tree, we remember. Each card we receive, a reconnection with friends or family that have loved us through our life. The stockings we hang, the meals we share, all reminders of those who joined us at the table in years past. As the song goes, there is no time like the holidays. Indeed, no time like the holidays to remember those who have gone before us.

Christmastime is hectic: there are cards to write and presents to wrap; cookies to bake and beds to make; guests to greet and meat to carve. Carve out some time to visit the undecorated house this year, the one with the empty chair.

Beryl Schewe, Director of Pastoral Care