Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 26, 2005
L'Arche angels try their wings
A Christmas pageant spills joy everywhere
By BILL GLEN
"Moments like this give me renewed life and energy."
- Grant Kaminski
"It's great living with people with handicaps where their rational power isn't like ours," she said. "You learn to live from your heart level rather than from your head level. It's been really good for me."
L'Arche properties manager Pat McCoy emceed the evening, narrating scenes about the birth of Christ from the Gospel of St. Luke.
"I think we have been doing the Christmas pageant for more than 25 years," he said.
As live carols were sung between scenes, L'Arche assistants placed the core members into position for the next bit of narration.
Mary was played by an assistant who held her sleeping nephew throughout the performance. Core members played almost everyone else, from Joseph to the innkeeper and his wife. Members were animals and wise men. They played angels who were draped with lights. Their smiles were just as bright.
A high note of the evening came as the show neared its end, when several assistants and audience members took a turn at the microphone to sing a portion of Silent Night in their native languages. The audience of about 150 was serenaded in Swahili, Japanese, French, German and Irish. A woman used sign language for her segment.
Each home was responsible for its members' costumes. Some are stored away for next year following the play. Yet, each home is eager to make new garments if needed.
Enosh Rokaya has been a live-in assistant at Little Flower home in Sherwood Park for five months. Originally from Nepal, Rokaya enjoyed helping the members prepare for the play, where he had the part of Caesar Augustus.
"I think everyone enjoyed the evening because it was participatory," he said. "Many of our programs offer participation doing several activities without too much pressure."
Before the pageant began, 12-year-old Dawne Jewette was playing with several members, poking one man in the ribs making him laugh. It was her first Christmas concert.
"When I grow up, one of the things I want to do is be a L'Arche assistant. I also want to be a doctor," she said.
Her father, Mike Leaburn, works with L'Arche's day program that takes 11 to 12 core members out for recreational activities like crafts, wood working, bowling and trips to a mall.
"We also go to Heritage Days and other outdoor events," Leaburn said.
Paul and Deanne Riopel were enjoying their second pageant. Deanne used to work as L'Arche's community health nurse before moving to Capital Health.
"There are so many things that distract us at Christmas that I think this reminds us of what it is all about," Paul said.
Deanne added: "I love to see what everyone is doing. I loved the Christmas carols. It's very heartwarming."
Kaminski has been with L'Arche for more than 15 years, the last six in Edmonton as director. Helping the members can become stressful over a year, but a Christmas concert is good for the soul. It reminds Kaminski that what L'Arche does is vital to its members.
"They come out in their own bathrobes. They make headdresses and save them," Kaminski said.
"Moments like this give me renewed life and energy. This is real life," he said. "To see the core members come to life; seeing them proud of what they are doing, absolutely draws me in."
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.