|January 7, 2013 • VOL. 51, NO. 1 • Oakland, CA|
| Parish participation jumps
to 48 at Crèche Festival
At the third-annual Crèche Festival, held Dec. 14-16 at the Cathedral of Christ the Light, displays from more than four dozen schools and parishes included some Nativity scenes crafted specifically for the festival, as well as some well-loved ones that hold a place of honor annually in parish churches. Parish participation in the festival has skyrocketed. The first year, 17 parishes participated; last year it was 28; this year, 48.
Alix Anthony was smiling as she arranged a colorful collection of Nativity figures and animals, including a red bull and a green donkey, made by her seventh- and eighth-grade pupils at St. Elizabeth Elementary School.
"We were inspired by Oaxacan mythical creatures," she said. Anthony had wrapped foam core with brown paper, and the pupils set to work with paint, carefully dappling the figures for the desired effect.
Next to her, principal Tim Hooke was carefully unwrapping the clay figures made by fifth-graders at St. Michael School in Livermore. As he arranged people and animals, he pointed out a special addition one of the students made.
"The little drummer boy," he said.
St. Jarlath School in Oakland decided to make its Nativity scene from recycled and repurposed materials, said teacher Mandy Irvine. Boxes that snacks came in, with the application of cotton balls, became bodies of sheep, with paper-towel rolls as legs. A towering camel was built of boxes.
Music stands provided armature for the bodies of the Magi, which Irvine draped with fabric from sewing class. The heads were papier-mâché, from paper rescued from recycling and painted by students.
"It's representative of our school," Irvine said, "pooling our resources."
The collaboration between preschoolers and their sixth-grade buddies came to fruition in a big way, as teachers from St. Mary School in Walnut Creek arranged a three-dimensional Nativity scene. It is the school's first time at the festival.
Pupils at St. Paul School in San Pablo dressed their Barbie dolls in handmade costumes, creating a Nativity scene that drew attention for its creativity.
Students were not the only ones to bring handmade work. Father Jun Manalo, parochial vicar of St. Joseph Parish in Fremont, used organic leaves, paint and considerable wood-burning skills to create a beautiful scene. He finished it the night before.
Among the parishes participating for the first time was St. Barnabas in Alameda. Yvonne Marcelle and Becky Jacobo placed the parish Nativity on a round table, unspooling ribbons to accentuate its presence. Marcelle said they had responded to an invitation from Leo Keegan, director of docents and ministerial services, to participate in the festival. That invitation was attached to a box of candy.
Representatives of the Kmhmú Pastoral Centers arranged their display, which showed two communities. In the lower land, were the nicer houses — the roofs were made of tongue depressors, Father Don MacKinnon, director of the center, said.
The poor live on the hill, in the more modest houses.
"There's Jesus," said Father MacKinnon, pointing to the manger, at the top of that hill, "with the poor people."
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