Diocese of Rochester faithful share stories about their creches - Catholic Courier

Diocese of Rochester faithful share stories about their creches

The Catholic Courier asked the faithful of the Diocese of Rochester to submit photos of their creches or Nativity scenes for inclusion in our 2023 Advent Calendar. The 80-plus submissions were included in a compilation video that may be viewed by visiting catholiccourier.com/adventcalendar2023 and clicking on the Dec. 22 window.

We also asked if there was any significance to or story behind the creches. Here are stories we received.

Valentina D’Agostino

A Panamanian-style creche.

Y. Voll Jr.

The creche has been in the family for 58 Christmases.

Bob & Sharon Orr

The wooden Nativity and crucified Christ in front was brought back from Israel.

Sandie Jonas

I’ve had this creche for 30 years. My kids always loved helping me set it up when they were little. Now, I still admire and love it.

Nancy McCarthy

My mother made this papier-mâché creche over 50 years ago. Other materials she used were fabric, yarn, paint, popsicle sticks, jelly tins and beads. Baby Jesus can lay in the manger or on Mary’s lap. It’s a family treasure.

Kathi Walek

Collected the pieces over several years. Very precious.

Lisa Culhane

While visiting with my cousins in summer 2013, I imagined and described a Christmas Nativity outdoor display and the specific criteria I needed. One talented cousin drew it, and the second talented cousin cut the wood and taught me how to mount it. We discussed colors, sizes and wind protection. I proudly display it and fondly recall a time when dear cousins gathered on a regular basis and discussed this Christmas creche.

Vito Valenzano

This small creche that my young grandson used to rearrange the subjects.

Thomas and Barb Miller

The figurines were handmade by my aunt and gifted to us over a few Christmases approximately 40 years ago. Tom made the stable.

Marianne Martin

The creche is a family heirloom. Always think of my mother when I unpack and display it every year.

Lenore Andrews

This Nativity crib has been in my wife’s family for 100 years. It was handmade in Germany and given to my wife’s family by her great aunt. The crib has been in our current home for 50 years.

Peggy Bishop

Holy Family and stable was my uncle’s (Father Paul Gibbons), and through the years, I have added the rest of the set.

Peggy Bishop

My husband constructed the Nativity for our front yard. Unfortunately, he passed in January of this year, and in his memory, his Nativity stands again in the yard with a spotlight for all who pass by and see the true meaning of Christmas.

Larry Scrivens

The frame was originally made to hold a pond of water. It was disregarded, and we thought it would make a nice frame for the stable.

Maggie Schweinberger

Loved the simplicity of each piece, yet the deep meaning behind them reminds me of the true meaning of Christmas.

Missy Coppini

This was my mother’s creche, and as a child, it was always my job to set it up. Now, I’m in my 50s and still setting it up every year.

Diane Knittle

A surprise gift from my husband from a trip to Albuquerque, N.M., in 1990.

Rita O’Buck

This Nativity scene is very special to us, as it belonged to the late Father Thomas Wheeland.

Rita Murphy

We have two heirloom creches in our home; however, we have chosen these two to submit. They are creches our five grandchildren enjoy telling and retelling the story of Christmas throughout the years. No hands off for these sets, but it is encouraged to manipulate, rearrange and interact.

John Infantino

I built the manger for the Nativity myself in 1992 and am proud to display it each year in my living room.

Jim O’Kefe

Joan (my wife) got this set as a teenager about 60 years ago.

Kenneth Laubacher

We have displayed this scene on our front porch for over 20 years. We have many small creche scenes in our house as well.

Dorothy Schulz

The creche is porcelain, hand-painted by myself.

Diane Knittle

Handcrafted creche from Monreale, Italy, trip to Sicily with Father Joe Catanese in 2009.

Melissa Lennox

This is our first creche since we got married in 2002.

Ginny Krutell

A Guatemalan creche.

Deacon Claude Lester

My grandparents, Thomas and Josephine Kopczynski, and their children lived at 34 Koscuisko St., Rochester, a century ago. One of the men in the neighborhood picked up peoples’ discarded trees after the Christmas season and refashioned the branches into manger houses. We have no more information, if he gave them or sold them to people, but we proudly display our manger house each year with one of our Nativity sets. It reminds us of our heritage and a past age when life was a bit simpler and more practical.

Carmen Teremy

I am from Puerto Rico, and this Nativity scene always me reminds of my traditions!

Kim Olfano

Our first Christmas Nativity purchased when first moved to Rochester. We put it up every year!

Jeff Crites

I built this creche in November of 2019 to honor my father, who was a carpenter by trade. He enjoyed it through video calls that Christmas, as he lived in Indiana and was not able to travel far. His health deteriorated the following year due to congestive heart failure. He passed away peacefully in his sleep on Dec. 23, 2020, just a few days after his 90th birthday. This also occurred on the ninth and final day of a novena I was praying to St. Joseph on his behalf for a happy death. God’s mercy knows no bounds.

Kathy Muller

This belonged to my grandmother. The straw inside came from Holy Family in Rochester when I was a young girl going to school there. Msgr. Schmidt was pastor, and he gave us each some straw from the church creche to take home for our own.

Susie Scoppa

Bought for grandchildren 20-plus years ago.

Carmelo Furgiuele

This is a representation of my own town Amantea in Italy.

Louise Molyneux

My father built the stable. I painted most of the figures. I made the star from gift wrap. I have been collecting the angels for years. I was very pleased to find the starry night fabric for the background.

John Juhasz

It is a Lenox bone china Nativity set that I started to collect 30 years ago. Last year, I made the scenery that it deserved, and out of respect for what it represents.

Dan Celso

A gift from a friend who visited Mexico.

Nick and Marcia Mendola

The original statues have been in the family since the early 1900s. The creche was made in the 1950s by Luigi Mendola (Nick’s father) from a tree in their Rochester backyard. Other figurines were acquired over the years. The Nativity scene is displayed annually for the Mendola family to gather as the Baby Jesus is placed on Christmas Eve. The Three Kings and camels are placed on the Epiphany.

Cynthia Foy

Figurines belonged to Father Edward Foy, deceased priest and uncle to Kevin Foy.

Katherine Powell

My father made this creche in the 1940s. He carved the birds by hand.

Theresa May

When I was a child, all I wanted for Christmas was my own manager for my room, and my Aunt Mary made it for me in 1982 and gave it to me on Christmas Eve.

Douglas Eckert

This creche has been set up every year for 40- some years by my Knights of Columbus council, of which I am the Grand Knight, in downtown Irondequoit. Several years ago, it was vandalized, and many of the statues were broken, but it has been lovingly restored to its former glory. We pride ourselves on displaying this scene for all to see in order to promote keeping Christ in Christmas.

Bridget LaDuca

My creche was a gift from my mother-in-law.

William and Pamela Caroscio

We started assembling this creche when our two girls were very young. We choose one that they could handle without fear of breakage. We added figures over the years to include some less-standard visitors to the manger. Our daughters are now carrying on the tradition in their own homes.

John Hewes

The figures have been with my wife, Patricia, since she was a young child. They are very special to both of us in our 32 years of marriage.

Antonio DiMonda

I have been creating Nativity displays since I came over from Italy 60-plus years ago. It brings me back to memories when I was a child.

Rosemary Herendeen

I bought the large Nativity at the St. Mary’s lawn sale years ago, and the print above it was given to me and my brothers and sisters when our childhood parochial school closed.

Patty Redfern

The manger was made in tech class by my grandson, who was 10 years old and living in Ecuador at the time in 2017. He went by memory of the dimensions of the manger. The manger was his carry-on luggage when he came to visit me at Christmas. It is my very favorite Christmas decoration!

Betty DeMocker

Made by my daughter Denise many years ago.

Rich Remling

It’s been in the family since before WWII.

Mary Martha Ryan

My sister Jane Bowes of St. Bernard of Clairvaux in Bradford, Pa., made this for me probably 20-plus years ago. Looking at it closely, it rivals the beautiful Hummel our mother had.

Lauren Thielmann

A wedding gift from my mother-in-law 51 years ago.

Deborah Wahl

The stable was built by my father-in-law and given to me back in the ’70s. I hand painted the figurines in a ceramic class that I was taking at the time. I got the straw from my father’s barn and carefully put back in a Ziploc bag at the end of the season.

Susan Haugh

When I was about 9, I won a Nativity set at a church fundraiser. When we opened the box, the Baby Jesus was missing. My mother didn’t have the heart to call the church and tell them there was a problem. She offered a solution. We would go to Manhattan to a religious store to select a Christ Child. … I was really excited to see if we could find the right figure. When we arrived at the store, we explained what happened to the gentleman, and he was very quick to show us possible options. But, I had my eye on one special figure that was not one he offered. Both he and my mother tried to convince me it was too big and did not fit into our particular set. In my eyes, that figure was the star of the show and to me just perfect. When we got home and put it in the manger, I had to laugh, as he couldn’t even fit his bottom in it! I really didn’t care, because, after all, he was the star of the show! A friend made a stable, which we put on the front porch. It safely protected the entire set from the snow. Every year, I covered the roof with evergreen boughs. I put smaller branches in among the figures. We added lights as well. That Nativity set was outside every year as I grew up. Of course, the weather did take its toll, so some figures are missing their paint but, as I look at it today it just brings back wonderful memories of my childhood. Now it sits in our living room, where our sons and grandchildren enjoy it each year.

Patricia Larzelere

This is a very kid-friendly Nativity. When our oldest, who is now 37, was a baby, he would grab the figurines and play with them. His children have added the Care Bear, dog and light-up Santa. We don’t usually have the Wise Men appear until after Christmas. On 12/25, they move around the house, making their way to the creche for Epiphany.

Diane McConnell

This is our family creche now but was my parents’ creche during the 1950s. Most are original pieces, but a few replacements over the years.

Ellen Linehan

It’s 51 years old.

Elaine Rago

It was a Christmas gift from my brother. He passed away many years ago.

Caitlin Maystrovsky

We set this out every year.

Bill and Donna Torpey

Bill bought this Nativity in Guadalajara, Mexico, when he was working there for Kodak. We both loved the simplicity of the hand-carved and hand-painted figures. For us, it depicts Christ’s humble birth.

Thomas Broccolo

Growing up, every year my grandparents would give me two Fontanini figurines for Christmas to build a Nativity set. The set was complete with a stable that was built by my grandfather. Now having grown older, it has become an important part of our family’s Christmas, as every year, I treasure setting it up with my wife and two young children. The set is truly complete with the addition of two little angels, our children, Benjamin and Lucy.

Tina Thirnhill

This creche was started as a gift from my mom in 1973 for our anniversary. It contains 87 pieces, and I continued each year until they didn’t make the size anymore. The manger was made by my father in the 1940s before I was born.

Lynn-Marie Wozniak

I collect Nativity sets and creche. My family and friends give them to me as gifts. I have them from all over the world made of all types of materials, and in many styles. This is about one-third of them. I couldn’t get them all into a single photo.

David McCoy

My mom gave this small creche set to my son when he was a kid. I made the stable for him a few years later. I always put this out at Christmas to remember mom.

Grace Bellave

My late husband, Joseph, and I bought this creche not long after we moved in 1955 into our new house, where I still live today.

Robert and Pat Capellazzi

The ceramic Nativity pieces were made by Pat’s sister, Ann Marie Pascale. Ann Marie passed away in 2019.

Gina Capellazzi

My parents gave it to me for Christmas a few years ago when they realized I didn’t have a creche for my home. The Magi gifts contain real gold, frankincense and myrrh.

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