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Celebrating Christmas traditions

With the Christmas season upon us, sisters in two of our communities share how they celebrate the coming of Christ. Sisters from St. Anthony’s Gardens in Covington, Louisiana, and The Sarah Community in Bridgeton, Missouri, are looking forward to the festivities this season. They hope and pray Advent and Christmas are even more celebratory than last year.


Christmas at St. Anthony’s Gardens

By Sister Clared Coyne

The sisters at St. Anthony's Gardens in Covington, Louisiana, do different crafts and projects during the Christmas and Advent season, as seen in this photo.

My fellow School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND) living at St. Anthony’s Gardens in Covington, Louisiana, are looking forward to the third Christmas in our new home. Having been in Chatawa, Mississippi, for the last 145 years, traditions consisted of a decorating and blessing of the Christmas tree party, signing up to decorate different rooms, entertainers, a Christmas Eve party after Mass and a Christmas morning Mass followed by a festive dinner.

St. Anthony’s Gardens is only five years old and just beginning to build traditions. Our new traditions include a Christmas tree decorating party with eggnog. Various entertainers come, including Sister Maureen Therese Mueller who has a bell choir ring out. We also have a wonderful dinner, then a big highlight is a program presented by staff, residents and friends that ends with a live nativity scene minus the animals.

The SSND, while living in community with lay people, reserve a room for a holiday party and share the Christmas goodies we have received. One thing is for certain, Christ and Christmas are present wherever we are and we sisters know how to celebrate it.There is an opportunity for Christmas arts and crafts, which become apartment decorations. Residents hang wreaths on their doors and place various Christmas arrangements on the shelves next to each door. It is nice to walk down the corridors viewing the different creations.

Christmas at The Sarah Community

By Sister Connie Schmidt

If I write about Christmas, I need to write about Advent too. Advent and Christmas weave together so well for the School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND) at The Sarah Community  in Bridgton, Missouri. Over the past 21 years, traditions have been established that make these two seasons very special. Sister Mary Jane Jansen recalls how the Christmas Novena is prayed for nine days before the daily liturgy in the Marian Chapel. She says, “The Christmas Eve Mass is the culmination of the spirit of Christmas—the birth of Jesus being present among us and celebrated with one another.”

Sisters sing at a Christmas concert at The Sarah Community in Bridgeton, Missouri, in the early 2000s.

The chapel at The Sarah Community has an exquisite atmosphere created by the liturgical music centering around the Advent wreath and the manger scene. The main entrance to the community center is decorated beautifully by the staff to give a holiday welcome to all who enter during this festive season. The staff and administration will go out of their way to prepare a delicious brunch for the sisters and their special guests. Gift giving is graciously bestowed on the sisters by the staff and administration, and likewise from the sisters. This kind of generosity is keenly felt by all. Also, special choirs of Christmas songs fill the assembly room during December. In the earlier years, the area SSND Christmas choir gave a concert for all the residents at The Sarah Community.

Like most things, COVID-19 interrupted many of the traditions of the past for last year’s Christmas. However, sisters are hopeful and looking forward to the sights and sounds of Advent and Christmas this December at The Sarah Community. Their hope and prayers are that the Star of Bethlehem might shine a little brighter this year on everyone!

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