Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 10, 2007
Christmas crèche figurines come from all over the globe
Italian-born priest is chief set designer of his church's nativity scene
Christmas – December 25
By TED FITZGERALD
The crèche is unveiled by the pastor himself at a Christmas Mass.
He welcomes part-time parishioners from all over the world to his modest church and is well-known internationally because of his seamen's ministry. He travels daily to vessels in the port, counselling their crews and at times celebrating the Eucharist on shipboard.
Our Lady Star of the Sea Church is of interest locally for its historic connections. It was built in 1951 when the city's first cathedral, St. Patrick's, was being dismantled after being replaced in 1940 by the new Corpus Christi Cathedral.
The nave and sanctuary from the old cathedral were moved to Corpus Christi Beach as were the altar, windows and statues so that visitors can almost experience attendance at the old diocesan seat 100 years ago.
Cognizant of the milieus of its many sea-faring, part-time parishioners, the re-established church was dedicated to Our Lady Star of the Sea.
Setting up the parish crèche is not a communal affair. Monsignor knows where each piece came from, whether donated or collected by himself from some 20 different countries.
All are of a size to accent the focal manger group of Jesus, Mary and Joseph and he knows exactly where each is to be placed. Almost anyone can be in attendance at this scene celebrating the anniversary of the world-changing first Christmas.
The 700 pieces, assembled over 40 years, all face the Holy Family and include, for example, a fisherman, dinosaurs, deer, pigs, an armadillo and many human figures. The crèche is unveiled by the pastor himself at a Christmas Mass.
Today, Our Lady Star of the Sea welcomes a variety of the faithful to daily Masses, seamen, people from area towns who feel attached to the little sanctuary and in season, some of the 100 or so families of Winter Texans who reside at Corpus Christi Beach. In addition to about 150 permanent Catholic families that support this church are other seasonal parishioners, those of other religious persuasions who, attracted to the homely church, become temporarily Winter Catholics.
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