December 23, 2011

Readers share their favorite Christmas memories

Christmas provides years of special memories of faith and fellowship

By Mark Hummer (Special to The Criterion)

As a college student at the University of Toledo, which is in the Mid-American Conference, Advent and Christmas were always special times.

I was a member of the Newman Club at the university. They still have a very active Newman Center.

One of the Christmas activities that we sponsored—and they still do—was a midnight Mass on campus at the Student Union on the weekend before final exams in December.

As with all their Masses, this liturgy was open to the public.

Over the years, I had volunteered as a lector, greeter and server. The music was always very special.

Years later, we had our oldest daughter, Valerie, baptized at Corpus Christi Church near the university.

My mentor in college, Father James Bacik from Sandusky, Ohio, has been the Catholic campus minister there since about 1981.

He is still there, and the community of Toledo is very blessed to have him minister on the campus. He is a very wise, humble and down-to-earth priest who always brings out the best in people.

I grew up in the small town of Holly, Mich., where my parents are still residents. It is about an hour north of Ann Arbor and about 10 miles south of Flint.

One of the fond memories I still have about the area is that the village of Holly would hold their Christmas sing-a-long at St. Rita Church, our hometown parish.

Ever since we moved there when I was 12, the town has sponsored what is called “Dickens’ Days.”

All the shopkeepers and even some local volunteers would dress in period costumes, and talk in the style of Charles Dickens’ characters from his books.

Going back home to visit, you felt like you also went back in time!

From 1997 until 2007, I had the distinct honor of working as the activity coordinator at A Caring Place in Indianapolis with Providence Sister Susan Dinnin.

The center is operated by Catholic Charities Indianapolis as part of their older adult day services program.

One of my favorite memories about working at A Caring Place was playing the role of Santa Claus along with the late Benedictine Brother Anthony Streit.

We would adopt a participant and make sure that he or she had a present.

The Indianapolis “500” staff from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway also provided care packages for A Caring Place participants.

We would pile all the gifts on a sled and roll it down the hallway then open the doors and say, “Ho ho ho! Santa is here!”

The family members and especially the participants are truly blessed to have a caring and creative person like Sister Susan as their site manager.

(Mark Hummer is a member of St. Christopher Parish in Indianapolis.)

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