In the year 1224, in the Italian Town of Greccio, St. Francis of Assisi was inspired to recreate the birth of Jesus Christ. At his invitation, the townspeople gathered outside at sundown and sang hymns, listened to the Gospel Nativity Story at a simple manger surrounded by livestock. With their voices raised in song and prayer they realized and experienced what Mary and Joseph experienced as they entered Bethlehem.

Pilgrims gathered in the parking lot of our St. Kateri Tekakwitha National Shrine  and Historic Site (Fonda, NY), on Sunday, December 8, 2019, at 4:30 p.m., for a Greccio Living Nativity celebration with Director and Chaplain of the Shrine, Our Lady of the Angels Province friar, Fr. Timothy Lyons, OFM Conv. Held outside, in the dark and cold, the event helped to remind participants of the faith Joseph and Mary had in God’s desire for them – the same he has for us – as His Chosen Children. The Shrine’s Grassmann Hall was also open for those who desired to join in prayer and song but preferred the heat and light. 

Twice on this same weekend, pilgrims gathered to witness Greccio at our Shrine of St. Anthony (Ellicott City, MD). The service of Prayers, Christmas Carols, and a Living Nativity (with live animals and local school children actors) was held outside at the Shine of St. Antyony’s red barn, on December 7 & 8, 2019, at 7:30 p.m.
Pictured at left, Fr. Tom Lavin, OFM Conv. [Our Lady of the Angels Province friar serving as Chaplain of Our Lady of Good Counsel High School, in Olney, MD while residing in the St. Joseph Cupertino Friary of the Shrine – including providing assistance there when needed] led the Saturday service. On Sunday, Fr. Everest Valentine Njaki Mkenda, OFM Conv. [a friar of  Tanzania who lives and serves with our friars at the Shrine] led the 2nd evening’s service. This annual event is a tradition shared with not only the Shrine’s pilgrims but the entire community surrounding the Shrine.

If you missed these two events, don’t fret! Many of our province ministries hold Greccio Service Celebrations throughout the month of December, including the December 15th Live Nativity, at Assumption Church, in Syracuse, NY . Join fiars, staff, parishioners and the neighboring community for a dramatic telling of the Nativity story with Carols, Live Animals and Refreshments, at 2:00 p.m. (812 N. Salina Street, Syracuse NY 13208) It’s a wonderful event for children and also a great way to invite friends and neighbors who may have been away from the church. Details below.

St. Francis High School (Athol Springs/Hamburg, NY): Join the Freshman class as they present the Greccio Living Nativity on Wednesday, December 18th at 7:00 p.m., in the chapel. This event is free and open to the public. A reception will follow in the student dining room.

This Franciscan tradition lives on each year, at Archbishop Curley High School, when the Freshman class re-enacts Greccio and in so doing, brings alive the Christmas story with actors (human and animal), Scripture and song. This year, the class moderators – Ms. Reed and Mr. Ryan –  organized the production.

Throughout our province, our varied ministries will be holding many events of preparation for Advent 2019. Take a moment to find the ministry nearest to you by using the Locations page on this website. Follow the links provided and look through the calendars, bulletins and social media postings on the individual ministry websites. You will find many choices to add to your personal preparation as well as events for family and friends to share.

Advent Message from Fr. Donald Grzymski, OFM Conv.,
president of our high school ministry in Baltimore, MD – Archbishop Curley High School.

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