The gym at Saint Catherine Center was transformed into a beautiful starry night in Bethlehem, as students from Saint Catherine Academy presented the annual Christmas Pageant to an enthusiastic audience of parents and friends of the Center on December 23rd. View some photos.
In her welcome, Helen Burland, Executive Director, shared a quote often attributed to St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.” “Our actors today will personify this,” she said. “We will be touched by their message… our students live the Gospel message and they teach us every day—using as few words as possible—that there is value in every life.”
The familiar Nativity story has been presented each year since Saint Catherine Academy opened in 1999. Roles are announced after Thanksgiving, and four weeks of rehearsals begin. Sr. Cheryl Driscoll, RSM, a teacher at the school, directs the play each year. In creating the script, she considers the abilities and personalities of the students. “Each student has their own unique gift to bring to this story. That’s part of the beauty of the Pageant,” she said.
All students have a role. New students are usually angels or shepherds, while more prominent parts such as Mary and Joseph are played by those who have been in the Pageant before. “We switch roles so everyone has a chance to play someone different,” Driscoll said. “Those who have been in the Pageant for several years now really understand the story and their parts. They’ve grown tremendously and are able to help the others.” This year, Nyah Holmes was Mary and Vincent DiProperzio played Joseph.
Staff are also part of the cast, assisting students and helping with staging, lighting, and costumes. Christmas songs move the story along and the audience is encouraged to join in singing.
“We look forward to this event,” said Michelle Rivelli, a Board member and parent of a participant in the Center’s Adult Program. “It really begins the Christmas season for us, as I know it does for many others who come every year. Watching every student participate helps us focus on the real meaning of the hope and joy the season brings.”
As the Pageant narrator announced at the beginning of the play: “This is the story of God become human, so it’s not the sort of thing whose meaning we can exhaust in one telling. Every time we listen to this story, our hearts are touched in a new way.”