Christmas Traditions MAGAZINE
Faith-centered trip | A special gift w w w. p i ttsb urghcatho l i c.org
Wishing you a blessed Christmas and a New Year of Peace and Happiness
4 | “It’s a Wonderful Life”: 14 | Dear Pope Francis: A former movie and media critic explains why the 1946 film still has chops.
6 | Putting on the Ritz: A Polish Hill parish shines during the holiday season.
Children from around the world write to the Holy Father.
16 | Farkleberry cookies anyone?
8 | Artistic touch:
KDKA and Children’s Hospital’s decades-long campaign for the little ones.
How a childhood hobby became much more.
18 | Naughty or nice?
10 | Special gift: A 10-year-old gets the present of a lifetime.
12 | Name that flick: It’s time for Christmas movie trivia.
God extends his mercy to all his children — saints and sinners alike.
22 | Downtown road trip: Enjoy the cultural character and unique settings throughout the holidays.
On the cover... The cover photo and the photos on Page 6 were taken by Thanush Thamban who lives in Plano, Texas. It features the sanctuary of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Pittsburgh’s Polish Hill neighborhood at Christmas. Cover design by Rita Cappella
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Vol. 8, No. 5 Publisher | Bishop David A. Zubik General Manager | Ann Rodgers Editor | William Cone Operations Manager | Carmella Weismantle Christmas Traditions Project Editors John W. Franko, Phil Taylor Associate Editors Phil Taylor (Special Projects) Chuck Moody (News) Staff Writer | John W. Franko Graphic Designers Rita Cappella | E. Denise Shean Advertising Director Carmella Weismantle Account Executives Michael A. Check | Paul Crowe Michael Wire Circulation Mgr./Parish News Coord. Peggy Zezza Administrative Assistant | Karen Hanlin Office Assistant | Jean DeCarlo
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Christmas Traditions 2016
Pittsburgh Catholic Magazine 3
‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ still resonates with viewers decades later
A scene and a movie poster for Frank Capra’s 1946 film.
By ED BLANK In Frank Capra’s exceptionally beloved 1946 film, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” central character George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) wipes his mouth with his quivering fist as he prepares to take his own life. He’s alone on a snowy bridge anticipating his final earthly seconds in the icy waters below. All he has done for others has not been enough. For nearly two hours George has escorted us toward his deepening despair, and so we understand the depletion of his spirit. We revere him as we do few other movie characters. Desperately, if helplessly, we want to rewrite the unhappy circumstances of his life because he’s completely and utterly decent — a man whose life since childhood has been about sacrificing his own comfort for others. And yet we can’t. We cannot rescue him from himself. We’ve watched as this most selfless of husbands, fathers, neighbors and bankers has failed and failed and failed to right the wreckage of his best efforts. In his discouragement, he snaps at his wife, barks at his children and scolds his well-meaning Uncle Billy (Thomas Mitchell). George’s helplessness in asserting his pervasive integrity is what makes him so compelling. We cannot restore his faith in himself.
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But Clarence can. As embodied by endearing character actor Henry Travers, with his round facial features, bulbous nose, bushy eyebrows and benign smile, Clarence hopes to broach George Bailey’s despair with a wand of benevolence. Clarence is an angel hoping after untold decades to earn his wings. He’s not so much a skilled celestial figure as he is a tenderly empathetic one, an embodiment of the audience’s noblest selves. He understands intuitively that George is famished for self-esteem and needs to know that his life has mattered — that his being has made a difference. At first the angry and disheartened George dismisses Clarence as being teched. But Clarence has been briefed and understands what has brought George so low. Clarence knows that as a boy George saved his drowning brother who now is a war hero. He knows that George was cracked in the ear by a tipsy, heartbroken pharmacist whose own son had just died. He knows George had tried and tried at great financial peril to rescue his hometown of Bedford Falls from the durably mean-spirited Mr. Potter (Lionel Barrymore). And he knows George was a dedicated husband to Mary (Donna Reed) and loving father.
Clarence sees that each of several incidents tipped George’s world off its axis. And so he gives George a great gift — “a chance to see what the world would be like without you.” As scripted by Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett and Jo Swerling from a story by Phillip Van Doren and filtered through the humanistic sensibility of filmmaker Frank Capra (“Mr. Deeds Goes to Town,” “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington”), “It’s a Wonderful Life” tells us what we all need to hear from time to time. It says that if we strive to lead a genuinely good life, we will enrich our spirit and countless others in the bargain. Our essential decency will regenerate itself. George’s special angel, his mission completed, vanishes like The Lone Ranger, but he leaves a note for the Everyman he has restored: “Remember: No man is a failure who has friends. Thanks for the wings. Love, Clarence.”
Blank is a former film critic for The Pittsburgh Press and media critic for Trib Publishing.
Christmas Traditions 2016
Christmas Traditions 2016
Pittsburgh Catholic Magazine 5
Polish Hill parish lights up hearts with brilliant, lush displays By MARGIE GOWATY Christmas at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in the Polish Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh is an awe-inspiring reminder to us that only our best is acceptable as a gift to God. In this rushed society of ours, where Christmas decorations are already out in stores before Oct. 31, the parishioners of Immaculate Heart of Mary are happy to tell visitors to come during Advent for the
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purpose of viewing the parish’s Christmas decorations and that the church will not be fully decorated and lit until Christmas Eve. “Advent is Advent and Christmas is Christmas,” can be heard often during this season of preparation for the coming of the Christ Child. Usually on the first Sunday of Advent, a crew of volunteers stays after the 11 a.m. Mass to help carry down trees and decorations from upstairs to start the
decorating process. And it is a process. There are a group of regular volunteers who gives up their time five to six days a week during the Advent season to prepare the entire church for the birth of Christ. To them the Advent season is a time of hard work but done out of love for God. Every column, every altar and every nave will be decorated by Dec. 24. When the Christmas season begins even the adults of the parish are filled with a
Christmas Traditions 2016
special joy that generally is reserved for children. The lights bring a brilliant brightness to the dark days of winter that ordinary lights just cannot mirror. Christmas carols both in Polish and English are sung until Feb. 2, or as close to that date as possible. Just as their ancestors for generations have done both here and in Poland, Feb. 2 is the Presentation in the Temple and the traditional end of the Christmas season. The crèche fills the right side of the altar with an illuminated majestic star hanging above. The tent of the Three Wise Men is to the left of the altar, as they camp briefly by a fire before continuing their journey to see the newborn King of the Jews. The stable is void of animals and people until midnight Mass (which is actually held at 12 a.m.) when specially chosen parishioners carry them in during a marvelous procession. The Three Wise Men do not reach the crèche until the eve of the feast of the Epiphany. For more than two decades the vigil celebration of the Epiphany is filled with great music as the Immaculate Heart of Mary Choir contributes to the celebration of the Mass with magnificent voices that fill the church. One might think it was a choir from the Vatican singing God’s praises. The glorious music continues afterward with the voices of the Karuzela Chorus presenting a program of Polish Koledy and Pasturalki music to continue the celebration of the Christmas season of joy. The parishioners of Immaculate Heart of Mary are proud of the results of all the hard work that goes into the preparation for Christmas at their parish. When the Christmas season comes to an end with the emptying of the crèche, it is followed by a procession of all the Nativity figures being carried throughout the church as the lights are slowly turned off section by section. It is not uncommon to see tears falling from the eyes of grown men and to hear the soft sounds of weeping occasionally from someone as the procession passes by church pews. Afterward as decorations come down you’ll hear the inevitable “I hope we are still here next year,” or “I pray this is not our last Christmas.” The answer to which is — “only God knows.” Gowaty is a longtime parishioner of Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Christmas Traditions 2016
Sparkling Marshmallow Rice Krispies Treats
Ingredients: 1/4 cup butter or margarine 1 pkg. (10 oz.) JET-PUFFED Miniature Marshmallows 6 cups RICE KRISPIES cereal 1 tube (0.68 oz.) each: red and green decorating gels 2 tbsp. each: red and green sprinkles
Directions: Line 13x9-inch pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides of pan; lightly grease foil. Microwave butter in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 45 seconds or until melted. Add marshmallows; toss to coat. Microwave 1-1/2 minutes or until marshmallows are completely melted and mixture is well blended, stirring after 45 seconds. Add cereal; mix well. Press cereal mixture onto bottom of prepared pan. Cool completely. Use foil handles to remove cereal mixture from pan. Decorate with gels and sprinkles.
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Pittsburgh Catholic Magazine 7
A creative lifestyle found under our Christmas tree By KAREN HANLIN Handcrafting or painting decorations and Christmas gifts has always been a part of my holiday preparations. It has led to a creative lifestyle that brings a lot of joy to myself and others. My mom loved it when we used Glass Wax and stencils to decorate the 8-glass-panelled door to our playroom just off the kitchen. There were pretty bells, glowing candles, Christmas trees and lots of holly. Later we started using Christmas coloring book pages taped to the opposite side of the window and painting with acrylic paints in full color to accentuate the holiday windows. Then we began making egg-carton ornaments with tons of glitter. This craft evolved into making dough ornaments and then to using polymer clay for my creations. Watching and helping my father every year create an HO train display under our Christmas tree with lots of houses, roads and Matchbox cars, is still a special memory for me. Of course, my father always included a Nativity set with the angel hanging on a front branch of our tree. He also included a few special items like the little Santa in his sleigh, taped to the wall so it was taking off of the roof of a home in a back corner of the platform. In addition, he liked wildlife, so he included three large, out-of-scale beautiful deer figurines. You could see them peeking out from around the back of a tree trunk. Once, when my brother and I were in our teens, we spent a lot of time constructing houses and buildings out of Popsicle sticks. We couldn’t wait to see how they would enhance the next
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Many children related to Karen and Richard Hanlin have enjoyed receiving this large Noah’s Ark as a gift over the years. It is handcrafted from pine and painted with non-toxic acrylic paint.
When this rocking horse pattern was passed down from my father, I am sure he never expected that my husband would enjoy the woodworking and I would enjoy the finishing over 25 years later.
train display at Christmas. I remember us getting a box of 1,000 Popsicle sticks and thinking how much fun we were going to have. Sadly, my mother and father are both gone, so my brother adds the sleigh and deer to his Christmas platform. I still enjoy having a train display, and it continues to be an all-year hobby for my husband and me. Sometimes when building houses,
I put together kits, but I really enjoy starting from scratch and adding my own intricate details and painting them. One favorite project is a trestle on a curve, which we couldn’t find anywhere else. This has led me to start Kids’ Art Hut in which I will have several categories such as “Trains and Trestles,” selling N-Scale buildings and trestles I built; “Floral Expressions” that will include silk flower arrangements and wreaths, a more recent hobby that many friends have enjoyed. In addition “Woodworking,” where I will sell handcrafted rocking horses, Noah’s arks and wooden puzzles with children’s pictures. Along the way, I will add fine art painting and pet portraits. And finally — once finished — I will include a children’s book I am writing and illustrating for generations to come to enjoy. I truly have an inner need to continue to be creative. It is amazing how memories and a creative lifestyle can transform into Kids’ Art Hut. It seems to have been destined all along with mom and dad’s help and support. You can find KidsArtHut on Etsy.com. Hanlin is the administrative assistant for Pittsburgh Catholic Publishing Associates.
Christmas Traditions 2016
Impossible to find, but not impossible to build for the author, this bass wood, N-scale trestle on a curve enhances the layout of her family’s train platform.
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Pittsburgh Catholic Magazine 9
The author with his best friend Mickey.
Grandparents’ gift one never to be forgotten By MIKE CLARK The most memorable Christmas present from my childhood didn’t land on my roof. It wasn’t carried down the chimney by Santa. It arrived in a old Plymouth sedan, slowly backing down my driveway on Elderberry Road. “Grandmom and Grandpop are here!” My grandparents were making the rounds, delivering Christmas joy to their 23 grandchildren — one house at a time. My three brothers and I, happily awaited their arrival. These were bonus presents, arriving in the afternoon, long after we tore through the Mineola motherlode left by jolly old St. Nick, and hours after Dad finished the now half-eaten cookie we had left for The Big Guy. As we opened our gifts from Grandmom and Grandpop, sitting on our living room floor, John’s eyebrows were lifted like exclamation points, Tommy’s satisfied smile stretched from ear to ear, and Tony’s eyes popped to full moon status. While I don’t remember what presents they received, I do recall their reactions, and I know their gifts were 1970s-style cool. My present? No so much. I forced my appreciative smile after opening up what
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looked like a mini-swimming pool for my G.I. Joes. And I guess I needed the present that came with it, the really long silver chain, that I thought was a bicycle lock. What the heck? These were NOT cool presents. I put on a mature face, as we all hugged our grandparents, but I was filled with Christmas jealousy, feeling a bit ripped off.
I will never be able to fully explain the feeling as I looked into that box. And I will never forget that magical moment, and the flood of tears that erupted from my 10-year-old eyes. Staring up at me was the most beautiful little puppy face I had ever seen. How can my brothers all get something really cool, and I get a bike chain and a toy swimming pool for an action figure? Seriously? After we gave our thanks, Grandpop looked on the floor at the pile of gifts, and snapping his head from side to side, he
said, “Wait! Something’s missing. I think we left something in the car. One more present. I think it’s Michael’s.” The barrel-chested, retired Long Island police detective jumped up and darted outside, gently carrying my gift into the house. He carefully set down a cardboard box. I remember lots of holes had been poked through the makeshift lid he slowly removed. “Merry Christmas, Michael!” I will never be able to fully explain the feeling as I looked into that box. And I will never forget that magical moment, and the flood of tears that erupted from my 10-yearold eyes. Staring up at me was the most beautiful little puppy face I had ever seen. I remember picking up that frightened ball of white and brown fur, and not letting go. Mickey’s endless kisses, lapping up the salty streaks on my cheeks, her tiny stub of a tail spinning like an airplane propeller. And with those Boxer-type wings for ears in perfect symmetry, I swear she was smiling at me. The soft, high-pitched whining, begging me for more hugs. The other gifts, the pool (her dish), and the chain (her leash) suddenly made sense, and I hugged Grandmom and Grandpop tighter than I had ever hugged them. And my life, and our family’s life, would never be the same. Mickey was the loyal best friend we all needed. She didn’t fight with us over the remote control. She never hogged the bathroom or telephone, never ate the last Yodell or Ring Ding (Clark Family snack staples), never wore our favorite shirt and ruined it and never called us a nasty name. But Mickey was always there for each of us, when we did all those things (and more) to one another. Always comforting us when we needed companionship, when we needed attentive ears. I swear she understood mean. And I know she knew how to help us feel better. I turned to Mickey two years later, when we all needed her. Two days before Christmas, 1975, we got the chilling call. Grandpop suffered a massive heart attack, and died. I remember holding onto Mickey in the living room, the same spot where Grandpop had carried her to me for our Christmas introduction. I was sobbing. Trying to make sense, trying to breathe, but no sound was coming out. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t want to accept life without him. See Clark, Page 13
Christmas Traditions 2016
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Christmas Traditions 2016
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Pittsburgh Catholic Magazine 11
Name that Christmas movie or TV show?
Compiled by CONNIE STEWART
Madonna del Castello Parish, Swissvale Ingredients 4 eggs room temp 3/4 cup sugar 1/4 cup veg oil 1 teaspoons baking powder 1/4 teaspoons salt 1 teaspoon lemon extract 1/4 teaspoon vanilla 3 1/2 cups flour and more if needed and for rolling so dough is not to sticky Vegetable oil (enough for deep frying) 1 1/2 cup honey 2 tablespoons sugar Colored sprinkles Directions In a bowl, beat eggs and sugar sugar until foamy then add oil, lemon and vanilla. Sift the flour with the baking power and salt and stir into the egg mixture. Let rest for 15 to 20 minutes covered. With your hands, work the mixture into a soft dough. Divide the dough into 4 pieces. On a floured surface, roll each piece into a rope about the width of your index finger and 12 inches long. Cut the ropes into 1-inch pieces. Toss the pieces with enough flour to dust them lightly, and shake off the excess flour. In a deep fryer, heat the oil to 375°F. Fry the struffoli a few handfuls at a time, until puffed up and golden brown. Transfer with a slotted spoon to brown paper to drain. In a large saucepan, combine the honey and sugar and heat over low heat, stirring, until the sugar has dissolved; keep warm over low heat. Add the fried balls a few at a time, and turn them with a wooden spoon to coat on all sides. Transfer the balls to a large plate and shape into a round ring with wet hands. Sprinkle with the colored sprinkles and let stand for 1 to 2 hours. Break off pieces with your hands to eat.
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“What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?”
B Q: “You’ll shoot your eye out kid!” C. Q: “We’re your worst nightmare ... elves with attitude.” D: Q: “Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?” E. Q: “It’s a one-year membership to the Jelly of the Month Club.” F. Q: “He never got his picture on bubble gum cards, did he? Have you ever seen his picture on a bubble gum card?” G. Q: “Why aren’t you at elf practice?” H. Q: “Will you please tell Santa that instead of presents this year, I just want my family back?” I. Q: “I just like to smile. Smiling is my favorite.” J. Q: “I don’t know what to say except it’s Christmas and we’re all in misery.” K. Q: “I believe ... I believe. It’s silly, but I believe.” A. How The Grinch Stole Christmas. B. A Christmas Story. C. The Santa Claus. D. It’s A Wonderful Life. E. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. F. A Charlie Brown Christmas. G. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer. H. Home Alone. I. Elf. J. National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. K. Miracle on 34th Street
Submitted by Anna Cappella
Christmas Traditions 2016
Submitted by Connie Stewart St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Pleasant Hills Ingredients 1 1/2 cups whole hazelnuts 2 large egg whites 1/4 teaspoon salt 2/4 cup sugar 1/2 cup raspberry jam Directions: Preheat over to 400 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper Spread hazelnuts in a pie plate and toast until the skins split and nuts are fragrant (about 10 minutes) Transfer nuts to a clean kitchen towel and rub to release the skins. Let nuts cool. In food processor — pulse the nuts until finely chopped.
Continued from Page 10 My godfather, Uncle George, soon arrived, leading the four Clark boys in prayer. Mickey, right by our side. She was also there when Mom and Dad arrived back home with Grandmom, sitting at her feet. It turned out to be a favorite place for her, as Grandmom moved in with us permanently. A place where Mickey rested for the next 11 years, loyally hanging with Grandmom through her cooking, listening to and watching her Mets games, game shows and newscasts. Eleven years, until our lovable watchdog and best friend became too sick, and it was time for Mickey to join Grandpop. The ache of saying goodbye to Mickey brought back all the memories of that amazing Christmas when she entered my heart, and how she was there through all of my life’s milestones, straight through college. Mickey helped to teach me — and all of us — how to love. Better. More deeply. How to sacrifice, putting others first. How to be a friend. A true partner. My parents tell me the only “thing” I ever wrote in my present wish-list letter to Santa wasn’t a thing at all. It was a dog ... named Mickey. This year, I am looking back to the Christmas of 1973, when that wish came true, thanking God for that beautiful Heinz Variety mutt and all her love she gave so happily. And I’m thanking God for the gift of loving grandparents, who knew the magic of Christmas. Clark is an anchor for WTAE-TV and part-time journalism professor at Duquesne University.
Christmas Traditions 2016
In medium bowl — beat egg whites with salt until foamy. Gradually add sugar, continue beating until soft peaks form. (5 to 7 minutes) Fold in the hazelnuts Using a small scoop or spoon, scoop 1 1/2 inch rounds of batter onto the baking sheets. About one inch apart. Bake cookies for 11-13 minutes until fragrant and light brown. (turn baking sheets around halfway through baking) Remove cookies from oven. While they are still hot, make an indentation in the center of each with the back of a teaspoon. In a saucepan, boil the raspberry jam for 30 seconds until slightly thick. Spoon 1 teaspoon of hot jam into the center of each cookie. Let the jet set and the cookies cool. (makes approx. 30 cookies) Enjoy!
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Pittsburgh Catholic Magazine 13
Pope writes most tender answers to kids’ hardest questions By MICHELLE FRANCL-DONNAY Catholic News Service “Dear Pope Francis” by Pope Francis. Loyola Press (Chicago, 2016). 76 pp., $11.55. The car was always the place for the hard conversations when my sons were young. The questions would come from the back seat when I least expected it. I can still remember the rainy night I was driving down Montgomery Avenue when my oldest son, then 12, asked me why God let evil things happen. That remains the toughest question my children have ever put to me, bar none. In his newest book, “Dear Pope Francis,” the pope takes on the tough and direct questions that kids will ask. There is 9-year-old Michael from Nigeria wondering, “How can you settle conflicts in the world?” and Thierry, who wants to know why so many people are poor and hungry: Can’t God feed them? The book lists the authors as Pope
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Francis and the children of the world, and it’s clear from the start that this was a collaborative work between the leader of the church and its members. More than 250 children from 26 countries sent letters and drawings to Pope Francis. Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro met with the pope and recorded his answers to the questions posed in the letters. He then transcribed and edited the responses. The children’s drawings are reproduced alongside the pope’s answers, which truly bring the young writers alive. Father Spadaro writes in the afterword that he found transcribing the conversation an extended meditation, and I found reading the book to be a similar experience. I ended up reading it in a few sessions, stopping when I wanted to spend time with an answer — or a question. I don’t have young ones at home any longer, so I couldn’t try it out on its intended audience. But I do know that my sons would have appreciated the pope’s directness and humor, and I would have treasured his wisdom when faced with tough questions from my passengers.
Some of the questions are poignant. One young boy wonders if his mother in heaven has grown angel wings. No, Pope Francis tells him. She is still your mom, but she is beautiful and full of light and love for you. Others wonder about who gets into heaven and whether bad people still have guardian angels. We learn a lot about Pope Francis and his job as we go. He can pray in a dentist’s chair. He loves to play soccer, but hasn’t a nimble foot, so he’s not very good at it. We learn he is happiest in his job when he is with other people, and why he needs such a tall hat. But in each answer, the pope takes the children, and us, a bit deeper. Would that we could all learn to pray wherever we were, and to more fully express our joy in God. I sense Pope Francis’ awareness of the parents and other adults who are listening in the background to these exchanges, nudging them to think again about the tough questions, the questions that as adults we fear have no answers, that we might long ago have given up even asking.
Christmas Traditions 2016
Note: The Pittsburgh Catholic is accepting entries from children ages 7 through 12 to win this book signed by Bishop David Zubik and a $25 gift certificate to Barnes and Noble Bookstores. To enter, fill out the entry form below. Replies to “What Christmas means to me,” should not exceed 25 words and will be considered for inclusion in the Pittsburgh Catholic of December 23, 2016. I found myself returning again and again to the pope’s answer to young Thierry about poverty and hunger. “The real problem is that some of those who have plenty do not want to share it with others.” What do I have more than enough of? Where am I unwilling to share? Reading this book I was struck by Pope Francis’ tenderness. He is never saccharine, he never speaks down to the children, he is direct and firm. Above all his joy in the Gospel and his deep love of God comes through in every response. When 11-year-old Clara, from Ireland, asks him if he thinks that he is really a father to us all, he tells her that he does feel like a spiritual father to us all, and that he likes being a dad. This is a book by a holy father, indeed, who clearly loves all his children, young and old. Francl-Donnay is a member of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, and writes for CatholicPhilly.com.
Christmas Traditions 2016
Name Address City State Zip Phone #
What Christmas means to me: RULES/DISCLAIMER: To enter, complete the entry form here and mail it no later than Wednesday, December 7, 2016, to: BOOK CONTEST, PITTSBURGH CATHOLIC, 135 FIRST AVENUE, SUITE 200, PITTSBURGH PA 15222-1513; FAXES ACCEPTED AT 412-471-4228 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Employees of the Pittsburgh Catholic Publishing Associates and Diocesan headquarters are not eligible. One entry per household.
Pittsburgh Catholic Magazine 15
Children’s Hospital Memory Days A nostalgic look Through the years the KDKA-Children’s Hospital Free Care Fund windows have been a beloved Pittsburgh tradition. Who could forget the long lines thart strectched around the block during the 1970s and early ‘80s. The traditon continues this year. These are photos from the Free Care Fund broadcasts at Kaufmann’s windows and more recent photos from the Gingerbread House. The new effort is the NRG Gingerbread House (NRG is the title sponsor). CBS
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Radio is working with Empire Roofing and more to build the structure. CBS/KDKA is cooperating with Heinz Hall Garden Plaza on the area as a venue. The Gingerbread House will be open from Saturday, Nov. 19 through Saturday, Dec. 24. Tentative hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m every day and will host SantaLand. Santa-Land is the group that is Santa and the Elves, formerly of Kaufmann’s/ Macy’s Santa-Land in Downtown
Pittsburgh. Any guest can visit Santa and photos can be purchased, and photos can be taken by guests with a minimum purchase. KDKA will broadcast there on various days throughout the holiday season to benefit the Free Care Fund of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. In addition, donations can be given onsite to the Free Care Fund. Hours and details can be found at KDKA.com/Gingerbread.
Christmas Traditions 2016
Me Ch rry rist ma s
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Christmas Traditions 2016
Pittsburgh Catholic Magazine 17
Rejoicing in heaven over the return of lost sheep By ROBERT P. LOCKWOOD You don’t have to be Old School to remember Farah Fawcett. An iconic television actress, she became a celebrity through her role in the series “Charlie’s Angels.” She was just as well known for her marriage to actor Lee Majors (“Six Million Dollar Man”) and longtime relationship with Ryan O’Neal (“Love Story”). How’s that for a trip back to the ‘70s? Farah Fawcett died of cancer at the age of 62 in 2009. I didn’t know that she was Catholic until it slipped into one of the stories just before she died. Apparently, she had been raised Catholic and in the stories about her last years battling cancer she showed a strong connection to her faith. Her funeral Mass would be held at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles. Now, I don’t have a clue how she lived
18 Pittsburgh Catholic Magazine
her faith from her days as the “Charlie’s Angels” poster girl until her cancer was diagnosed. Well, yes, I have a clue. Her marital situation could only charitably be described as irregular, and I believe she was posing for Playboy at the age of 50.
Our faith is a pilgrim faith. Nowhere is there a stop sign on the living pilgrimage that says from this day on conversion is no longer possible. But it doesn’t feel right making a point of all that. I guess because I am personally very comfortable in a church of sinners struggling to be saints. God knows I wasn’t much of a saint in my salad days. Or yesterday. At the time of her death, there was
one of those endless Internet strings discussing the stories about Farah’s Catholicism. I can still remember it. They were pointing out the rosary that was so noticeably wrapped in her fingers during the video of her cancer battle. Of the priests that had visited her, and the priest called to the hospital in her final moments. I remember that one guy couldn’t take all that. He complained bitterly of all that “Kumbaya stuff” for somebody who, he said, had failed the faith miserably when she was healthy, wealthy and young. If she had been Catholic, he wrote, her life was one contradiction after another to the faith. It reminded me of the story when Babe Ruth was dying. Ruth was a Catholic who lived life Rabelaisian. When he was dying, there was a priest by his side to give him the last sacraments. That priest would receive letters — one in perfect ecclesiastical Latin — detailing why Ruth
Christmas Traditions 2016
should have been denied the solace of the faith. The nuns always told us of the rejoicing in heaven over the return of the lost sheep. As kids, we scoffed at those stories because we couldnâ€™t imagine anyone dumb enough to leave the church. And then we grew up. A friend told the story of a Christmas Eve when he was asked to visit a hospital to distribute the Eucharist to the sick. It wasnâ€™t an easy call to make, but he went. One woman lay curled up in her bed, her voice a throaty bit of nothing. She waved him away when he offered her Communion. But when he asked if he could pray with her, she agreed, if he would say the prayers. So he did, reciting the old traditional Catholic prayers. With each one, she joined in at the end, remembering the prayers of her childhood. â€œHow about the act of contrition?â€? he finally asked. She said OK. And she remembered and joined in. He asked her again about Communion. She said â€œyes.â€? He came to visit her again the day after Christmas. But she had died. Our faith is a pilgrim faith. Nowhere is there a stop sign on the living pilgrimage that says from this day on conversion is no longer possible. Farah Fawcett died Catholic. So did a lonely sick woman on Christmas Eve. Itâ€™s the season of syrupy movies where people turn their lives around in all the right ways at Christmas. They all seem modeled after Ebenezer Scrooge in Dickensâ€™ Christmas Carol. I confess Iâ€™m a sucker for them. After Scroogeâ€™s conversion â€œit was always said of him that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of all of us!â€? And then the ultimate syrupy Christmas conclusion: â€œAnd so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless us, every one!â€? I think of Farah Fawcett grasping her rosary seven years ago. And I think of a dying woman saying her act of contrition on Christmas Eve and receiving Communion. These are good stories. And they are real. This Christmas, may God bless us. Every One.
Lockwood is former general manager of the Pittsburgh Catholic.
Christmas Traditions 2016
Prep Time: 20 minutes Yield: 24 strawberries Ingredients 1 (12 ounce) cans condensed milk 1 (6 ounce) packages strawberry gelatin 14 ounces fine coconut green icing Directions 1. Mix together, reserving 2 tablespoons of the strawberry jello powder. 2. Chill the mixture. 3. Shape into strawberries,roll in the reserved jello powder. 4.Â With the green icing, make aâ€?hullâ€? at the tip of the strawberries. 5. Chill until firm.
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Pittsburgh Catholic Magazine 19
What God wants for Christmas By TONI ROSSI A couple of years ago, I was watching the Christmas tree lighting at Rockefeller Center on TV when country singer Darius Rucker performed a song off his album “Home for the Holidays.” It wasn’t a Christmas standard or classic hymn, but a brand new piece of music. And what a piece of music! The title is “What God Wants for Christmas.” I was surprised that a popular, secular singer would share such a God-centered message in song, even if it was the Christmas season. The first chorus asks, “I wonder what God wants for Christmas, Something that you can’t find in a store. Maybe peace on Earth, no more empty seats in church, Might be what’s on his wish list.” Then it continues, “What do you give someone Who gave his only Son? What if we believe in him like he believes in us? I wonder what God wants for Christmas, What might put a smile on his face. Every Bible with no dust, the devil givin’ up, Might be what’s on his wish list.” The song’s final line states, “By now we ought to know what God wants for Christmas.” And, of course, Rucker is right. It was spelled out by the angels who declared, “Glory to God in the highest” and told us to live with each other in peace and good will. Or, as Jesus responds in Matthew 22 when asked which is the greatest commandment, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” It would be great if that song became a Christmas classic because it gives us food for thought during this holy season when it’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of everything that needs to be done.
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Another story I read offers the same. On her blog, Catholic author Danielle Bean recalled a favorite Christmas memory about Msgr. Leo, an elderly priest who served as pastor of a parish to which she belonged. He was especially popular with people at that time of year because he would always end his first Christmas Mass by singing “O Holy Night” a cappella and without a microphone. “Here was one man’s simple expression of a great love he felt in his heart,” wrote Bean. “Here was one man giving all of himself to God. God made him to sing, and so he sang. For God alone. With all that he had.” The simplicity of that expression of love resonated with Bean. She said, “At Christmas, many of us feel pressured to do great things. We can’t send out just any card; we can’t give just any gift ... Thankfully, the kind of greatness God asks of us is not as complicated as we sometimes make it ourselves. The kind of greatness God demands has nothing to do with ribbons or wrapping, packages or presents. The kind of greatness Christ seeks comes from small, ordinary things done with great love.” So in addition to Christmas shopping for your loved ones this year, take some time out to ask yourself what God wants for Christmas and how we can better live out the type of greatness to which he calls us. The answers you find might be more valuable than anything that’s under your tree. Rossi is communication director for The Christophers, based in New York City.
A crabby Christmas By PHIL TAYLOR I made a decision this year to stop badmouthing Christmas. How the whole thing started, and what got me going, I think, I finally figured out. Like the Grinch, I have let the Christmas hustlers steal my Christmas joy. You know, they are relentless in their efforts to reduce something so wonderful and awe-inspiring to the crass and mundane. “Hello, it’s me, Christmas, I’m back. I hope you are ready for me. You sure weren’t last year. “By the way, you weren’t the year before as well. I’m beginning to think there is a problem. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m not feeling the love. If you have a problem with me you need to come clean.” I tried to organize my thoughts, “It’s just that …” “Aw, c’mon man, you know we have had some great times together, and now you want to go half-cold on me. Dude, really, what’s up with that? Is it really going to go down like that?” He’s really peeved this time. I began to slightly panic, “Well, lately, uh ...” “What? Are you serious! I’ve been with you your entire lifetime and now … now I can barely get some commitment.” Christmas seemed more annoyed with me than usual. He then he took a long breath, like he was going to say something important. Incredibly, he started to sing. Is you is or is you ain’t my baby Way you’re acting lately makes me doubt Youse is still my baby, baby Maybe baby’s found somebody new Or is my baby still my baby true. “Very clever, Christmas, but terrible grammar,” I said. “I didn’t write it. Anyway, it’s time to settle this and put this behind us.” It was clear he wanted closure. “I’ll work on it,” I said. “That’s it!” he hammered. “Yeah … that’s it! Like I said, I’m WORKING on it! Now leave me alone, will ya?” “Man, are you WEAK.” (Really? Name calling.) “What did you say?” I said. “You heard me,” he said with a smirk. “Hey, Christmas! You know this isn’t over. We have unfinished business.” “Brother, I’m not going anywhere.” Taylor is associate editor of special projects for the Pittsburgh Catholic.
Christmas Traditions 2016
Retirement Fund for Religious Please give to those who have given a lifetime.
“Be faithful to your prayer life and have a sense of humor,” says Sister Rita Polchin (foreground), 87, a member of the Sisters of Saints Cyril and Methodius. This philosophy has served her well during nearly 70 years of religious life, especially as a teacher and principal in Catholic schools.
Like Sister Rita, the senior sisters, brothers, and religious order priests shown here— and nearly 33,000 more across the nation— have offered their lives in service and prayer. Your gift to the Retirement Fund for Religious helps provide nursing care, medications, and other necessities. Please be generous.
Roughly 95 percent of donations aid senior religious. To donate: Make your check payable to Diocese of Pittsburgh. Please write RFR on the memo line. Name Address City
Retirement Fund for Religious • c/o Department for Consecrated Life • 111 Boulevard of the Allies • Pittsburgh PA 15222-1618 Photos: (foreground) Sister Rita Polchin, SSCM, 87; (background) visit retiredreligious.org/2016photos for a list of names. ©2016 United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Washington, DC. All rights reserved. Photographer: Jim Judkis
Christmas Traditions 2016
Pittsburgh Catholic Magazine 21
A faith-centered trip to Pittsburgh Christmas-themed sites abound for local families By PEGGY ZEZZA In days leading up to Christmas, people greet each other with “Are you ready?” The question means “Is your shopping done, cookies baked and the house decorated.” Sometimes we get overwhelmed in the preparations. We lose focus on the true meaning of what we are preparing for — the birth of Christ. Enjoying the holiday festivities together as a family, while reflecting on the true meaning of the season, should be a part of our Christmas preparations. One way to do this is to embark on a road trip to Downtown Pittsburgh, where you will find festive family activities surrounded by symbols and places that keep Christ in Christmas. The heart of the holiday sights in the downtown area is the Pittsburgh Creche, which has been part of the city’s Christmas celebration since 1999. Lifesize figures that make up the Nativity scene stand in U.S. Steel Plaza on Grant Street. While visiting, take time to reflect in silent awe, sing a carol, say a prayer or recite the Bible story of Christ’s birth. The site will touch your mind and heart and guide you in your faith-filled celebration. The Pittsburgh Creche is a stop on the Holly Trolley, a fun, free vehicle that runs Saturdays and Sundays, Nov. 19-Dec.17, plus Friday, Nov. 25, from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Hosted by Santa’s little helpers, the trolley circles downtown every 15 minutes. Another trolley stop is PPG Place, between Fourth and Third avenues. Here you will find MassMutual Pittsburgh’s ice rink. Your family will feel like you stepped into a Currier and Ives painting as you skate around a 65-foot-high Christmas tree. This year the rink has been rebuilt with many improvements, holding about 100 more skaters than past years. The idyllic setting continues with horse-drawn carriage rides offered Saturdays, Nov. 19-Dec. 17, plus Nov. 25, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 4-8 p.m. They
22 Pittsburgh Catholic Magazine
are also available at One Oxford Center, at Fourth Avenue between Grant and Smithfield streets, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Also in PPG Place is the Wintergarden, which comes alive with the Spirit of Giving from Around the World exhibit, featuring life-size Santas and original oil paintings. The exhibit stands as a symbol of how Christmas is celebrated in unity around the globe. In the center of the Wintergarden is a sweet display of handcrafted gingerbread houses. From the windows of the Wintergarden, you can see St. Mary of Mercy Church, which has stood at Stanwix Street and Third Avemue since 1893 (the current church was built in 1936). Pray together, go to Mass or light a candle in the church. Just a short walk to Market Square and you will enter an old world village, with wooden chalets that make up the Peoples Gas Holiday Market. You can literally go shopping around the globe, including Germany, Poland, Haiti, Kenya, Nepal and more. Weekend hours are Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m., Sundays from 11 a.m.-6 p.m., and closed on Thanksgiving. Santa Claus lives in the center of the market, welcoming visitors to his house. For a $5 donation to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank your family can have a commemorative photo with Santa, while providing 25 meals for hungry people in the area. Continue on the trolley to Kidsplay, located in the downtown Cultural District, 800 block of Liberty Avenue. This new holiday tradition offers fun for children of all ages, including arts and crafts, story time, short family-friendly holiday films and more. While in the Cultural District, you can make plans to see “A Christmas Story — the Musical” Nov. 22-27, or “The Nutcracker” ballet, running Fridays, Dec. 9-23. Both are at the Benedum Center on Seventh Street. Fifth Avenue Place is another trolley stop where you will find free activities for children on Saturdays, brought to you by the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. A lighted window at Highmark’s Caring Place on Penn Avenue at Stanwix Street is a sight to see at this stop. Thousands of illuminated butterflies fill the window with messages of remembrance and hope for
The heart of the holiday sights in the downtown area is the Pittsburgh Creche, which has been part of the city’s Christmas celebration since 1999. those who are grieving the death of a loved one. As the sun sets, the city shines, especially this year with the addition of lighted wreaths on 60 street poles along Grant Street, Fifth and Penn avenues. Also new in the “city of bridges” is a digital art display on the Rachel Carson Bridge. Titled “Energy Flow,” this unique display is powered by 16 wind turbines. You can see the Stanley Cup-winning Pittsburgh Penguins play hockey in the newly renamed PPG Paints Arena (formerly Consol Energy Center). The arena is only a few blocks north of the creche, and sits next to the architecturally inspiring Epiphany Church, built in 1902. It’s a beautiful place to celebrate Mass. If you get up early, start your road trip by heading to Pittsburgh’s Strip District. There are many places to stop for a delicious breakfast before you begin the day’s activities. A stop in the Strip District must include a visit to St. Stanislaus Kostka Church of St. Patrick-St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish, which stands tall at 21st and Smallman streets. Listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, it is one of the city’s oldest churches. For those traveling downtown, parking is free in all Pittsburgh Parking Authority garages on Saturdays, from Nov. 26-Dec. 24, and Friday, Nov. 25. Street parking is free on Sundays. These are just some of the festivities you will find during your road trip. In fact, there is so much to do you can spend a weekend in the city. An array of hotels for a wide range of budgets are available in the city center and surrounding area. Visitors can easily travel across bridges over the Allegheny River to Pittsburgh’s North Side. There you will find the
Christmas Traditions 2016
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1. St. Mary of Mercy Church. 2. Market Square. 3. MassMutual Pittsburgh ice rink. 4. Highmark Caring Place. 5. Rachel Carson Bridge. 6. Pittsburgh Creche. 7. Epiphany Church. National Aviary and Carnegie Science Center, which houses a miniature railroad and village. For more information about Downtown Pittsburgh for the holidays, visit www. downtownpittsburghholidays.com and www.visitpittsburgh.com.
Zezza is circulation director and parish news coordinator for the Pittsburgh Catholic. Reprinted from the Nov. 18 Pittsburgh Catholic newspaper.
Christmas Traditions 2016
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VISIT THE CHURCHES There are four Catholic churches in or near Downtown Pittsburgh. Be sure to come for Mass at these historic worship sites. St. Mary of Mercy, 202 Stanwix St., Downtown Masses: Saturday, noon, 4 p.m. (Sunday vigil); Sunday, 9 a.m. and noon www.stmaryofmercy.org Epiphany, 184 Washington Place (next to PPG Paints Arena), Uptown Masses: Saturday, noon, 6 p.m. (Sunday vigil); Sunday, 8 and 10 a.m., 5 p.m. www.epiphanychurch.net St. Stanislaus Kostka, Smallman and 21st streets, Strip District Masses: Saturday, 9 and 11 a.m., 4 p.m. (Sunday vigil)Â www.saintsinthestrip.org St. Patrick, 1711 Liberty Ave., Strip District Visit the beautiful garden and pray while ascending the holy stairs. www.saintsinthestrip.org
Pittsburgh Catholic Magazine 23
Kids Corner Color in the tree!
WIN 4 TICKETS TO KENNYWOOD HOLIDAY LIGHTS! Submit this coupon to be entered in a drawing for a chance to win 4 tickets to Kennywood Holiday Lights through December 23, 2016. Name Address City
Phone # RULES/DISCLAIMER: To enter, complete the entry form here and mail it no later than Friday, December 9, 2016, to: KENNYWOOD CONTEST, PITTSBURGH CATHOLIC, 135 FIRST AVENUE, SUITE 200, PITTSBURGH PA 15222-1513; FAXES ACCEPTED AT 412-471-4228 or e-mail to email@example.com. Employees of the Pittsburgh Catholic Publishing Associates and Diocesan headquarters are not eligible. One entry per household.
Congratulations to the winner of our Win Four Seats to see “A Musical Christmas Carol” Contest – Pittsburgh Catholic Magazine: Fall Events 2016, Lois Hicks.
24 Pittsburgh Catholic Magazine
Christmas Traditions 2016
Christmas Traditions 2016
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Pittsburgh Catholic Magazine 25
From the Pages of
Past ‘Let Us Go Over To Bethlehem’ By SPIRITAN FATHER JAMES F. CARROLL Dec. 19, 1935 Today the Christian world is on a pilgrimage to Bethlehem. In a few more fleeting hours, we shall feel in spirit the breath of that first Christmas eve ... We can hear the rustle of rusty leaves in scattered panic before the feet of the wind. Darkness has shut out the starlight in the sky. Screams of cold air tear through the night. Black clouds press closely upon the hills of Judea ... Suddenly the gloomy clouds disappear. The sky is glorious in its starry array. A crescent, swung in the heavens,
26 Pittsburgh Catholic Magazine
cast a dazzling light upon a manger in the bleak chalk-like hills. Its rays, fall, too, upon the shepherds “keeping the night watches over their flocks.” Their tattered raiment takes on a brilliant sheen. A shaft of light, falling across the stony yard, and darting into the rude shed, clothes that shabbiness with a strange beauty. The Light of the world shines amid the darkness of that first Holy Night. All Christendom is out today on the old road that leads to the City of David. The pilgrims are going over to Bethlehem to see the word which was made Flesh and which dwelt amongst us. For Bethlehem is the beginning of a new road, a turning point in history, the only way that leads
to the heavenly abiding place, and to the possession of the Incarnate Word, the Author of never-ending peace and joy. There first the great Teacher of the world held his school; there first the Divine Physician courted disease to cure the ills of humanity; there first the Good Shepherd shepherded his sheep; there was the first divine way traced more lastingly than those who tread it; there first shone the Light that was to illumine the world; there first appeared to mankind Life that it might give it more abundantly. There a Child is born to us, there a son is given to us, there is Bethlehem, The House, our House of Bread. And the words are now more pregnant with meaning: Let us, today, every day, go over to Bethlehem, and see for ourselves, the Word that has come to pass.
Christmas Traditions 2016
Christmas Traditions 2016
Pittsburgh Catholic Magazine 27
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