October 16, 2015

Nativity sets are at heart of Advent pilgrimage to Dayton

This Nativity scene, titled “Lightness of Being,” Genella Ossi, Italy, is among the 1,300 crèches from different parts of the world in the collection on display at the International Marian Research Institute at the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio. (Photo courtesy the International Marian Research Institute at the University of Dayton)

This Nativity scene, titled “Lightness of Being,” Genella Ossi, Italy, is among the 1,300 crèches from different parts of the world in the collection on display at the International Marian Research Institute at the University of Dayton in Dayton, Ohio. (Photo courtesy the International Marian Research Institute at the University of Dayton)

Criterion staff report

An archdiocesan Advent pilgrimage to the University of Dayton in Ohio will give pilgrims an opportunity to view a collection of Nativity sets like no other.

Father Gerald Kirkhoff, director of the archdiocesan Mission Office and Society for the Propagation of the Faith and vicar for Advocacy for Priests, will lead the one-day pilgrimage on Dec. 9.

The pilgrimage will feature a visit to the International Marian Research Institute at the University of Dayton, where over the past 20 years the institute has collected various contemporary cultural expressions of the Nativity scene. Currently, there are more than 1,300 crèches from different parts of the world in the collection.

“Re-creating the scene of Christ’s birth is one of the most tender and enduring Christmas traditions,” according to the International Marian Research Institute’s website. “It has its origins in the Middle Ages, but came to bloom as popular culture only in the 17th and 18th centuries. Since then, Nativity sets have spread all over the world.”

In the Christ Child’s company in a Nativity set, there is the whole world: his mother and first disciple, Mary; the faithful but struggling Joseph; ox and ass as representatives of the animal realm; and the shepherds and magi, meaning the rich and poor of this world. The star in heaven and the angels hovering over the Child are a constant reminder that the world is one with God, and the Child himself one of the Trinity.

Father Kirkhoff said the pilgrimage will help individuals focus on this special liturgical season, and grow in their lives of faith. “Since Advent is a time of renewal and preparation, viewing these Nativity sets reminds us of the importance of the family and the presence of Christ not just in history but in our own lives today.”

The pilgrimage will leave the Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center at 8 a.m. and stop at St. Mary Church in Richmond, where Father Kirkhoff will celebrate Mass. The group will return to the Catholic Center at approximately 6 p.m.
 

(For more information, contact Carolyn Noone at 317-236-1428 or 800-382-9836, ext. 1428, or e-mail cnoone@archindyorg. The pilgrimage fee is $69 per person, which includes deluxe motor coach transportation, bag breakfast, lunch and admission to the exhibit. Archdiocesan employees may apply Faith@Work credits to cover the cost. The trip will be filled on a first-come basis. To register online, log on to www.archindy.org/pilgrimage.)

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