FAITH AND CULTURE | Our connection in Christ

F. Javier Orozco

Today in our culture, many of us are finding new ways to connect with one another. The idea of taking the time to send a loved one a written letter or calling someone on the phone for an extended conversation is mostly a thing of the past. More and more, we are finding ways to reach out by texting and tweeting one another in 140 characters or less.

Wisconsin woman makes home for Holy Family with Nativity set collection

A Nativity scene and wall decoration depicting the birth of Christ were seen in the home of Verna Bechard in New London, Wis. At Christmas time, Bechard displays nearly 200 Nativity sets that she’s collected over the years.

NEW LONDON, Wis. -- Every Christmas season, Verna Bechard's home is transformed into a gallery of Nativity sets.

Scenes of the first Christmas in Bethlehem fill nearly every curio cabinet, coffee table, mantel, window sill, hutch and cupboard in her spacious New London home. Today, the collection of Nativity sets numbers 193, with 30 from foreign countries.

Bechard purchased the first set in 1950 to replace one her mother owned.

Volunteer shines brightly fixing thrift store donations

Andy Vescova, 91, comes each week with his homemade testing device to check donated electrical items at the St. Vincent de Paul Society’s Ballwin thrift store. Vescova was able to repair this donated light fixture, which the store put up for sale at $5.

Andy Vescova was perched on a stool, hunched over a large, brass light fixture. He hooked up the light's electrical cord to an old, brown wooden box full of circuitry and lights -- an old invention of his that he uses to test for continuity in electrical items.

'Shining faces' light up volunteers at holiday events

Judy Krenn, left, received wisdom of longevity from Katherine Jennings, 83, while delivering Christmas presents at St. Raymond’s Apartments in St. Louis. Krenn is a youth minister at Holy Name of Jesus Parish and was leading student volunteers from Christ Light of the Nations School as part of the St. Vincent de Paul Parish outreach program.

Katherine Jennings, a petite but spry woman, had a big smile as seven students from Christ Light of the Nations School in Spanish Lake stood at her apartment door and sang "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."

When they finished, they handed her a neatly wrapped Christmas gift and a bag with canned goods, a chicken and fresh fruit.

But Jennings wasn't ready for them to go on their way. She asked each one to guess her age. Knowing it was an apartment complex for seniors, the guesses were over age 65 but not by much.

Rejoice! God has come to us

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson blessed the new offices of the Roman Catholic Foundation of Eastern Missouri in Shrewsbury Dec. 12. The foundation was launched earlier this year to provide individuals with the opportunity to invest in various initiatives supported by the Church. Mark Guyol is the president of the foundation.

Last week I wrote about the seven signs that suggest we are prepared for Christ's return this Christmas. Well, ready or not, Christ has come again. Rejoice! God has once again come to us in the form of a man like us, born of a virgin in the humblest of circumstances, to save us from our sins.

THE GOOD STEWARD | Stewardship saves Christmas

Dan Conway

During this time of year -- which the Church calls Advent but the secular world knows as the pre-Christmas shopping season -- Christians experience a profound tension. The Church urges us to prepare for Christ's coming again by intensified prayer, fasting and sharing with others. That's not the message our culture proclaims now.

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