250 Nativity displays coming to Galesburg parish open house

GALESBURG — Christmas shopping is the traditional way Americans spend the weekend after Thanksgiving, but the Altar Society at St. Patrick’s Parish is inviting people to try something different this year.

The group is hosting a Nativity Open House on Saturday, Nov. 29, and Sunday, Nov. 30, from 1 to 4 p.m. in the parish hall, 858 S. Academy St. More than 250 Nativity scenes brought in by parishioners will be displayed, according to Marge Hennenfent, a member of the Altar Society.

While some of them are traditional table-top scenes, others are depicted in table runners, table cloths and paintings. Hennenfent told The Catholic Post that the smallest Nativity scene is the size of a person’s thumb and will be displayed on a mirror, and the largest is a lawn display that was used outside St. Patrick’s Church for many years.

The vast majority will come from one parishioner, Mary Wright, who has collected about 200 Nativity scenes over the years.

This is the second year for the event, although it had to be reduced to one day last year due to an ice storm, Hennenfent said.

The Altar Society had just one requirement for what may be displayed: the Baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph all had to be present. Shepherds, wise men and friendly beasts are optional, Hennenfent said.

“What is especially interesting are the Nativity scenes from other countries, other cultures,” she said, noting that the variety is amazing. “One parishioner has a scene with a mariachi band.”

Those who come won’t leave empty-handed. Hennenfent said angel ornaments will be given to each person and children will receive bags of straw and a prayer.

“There will be enough straw in the bag so they can put one piece in the manger each day. We want to encourage them to have a Nativity scene at home,” she said.

“It’s a neat, neat way to spend time — and you have to spend some time to see them all,” Hennenfent told The Post. “Come and stay as long as you want.”

Admission to the Nativity Open House is $3 per person or $5 per family. The Altar Society will use the proceeds to buy altar supplies for the church.

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