“Most people seem to know that it’s biblical, but they really have no idea what it is,” she said. “It’s a reenactment of the flight of the Israelites, including the 10 plagues.”
The evening begins with a festive meal featuring lamb or chicken as the main course. Participants then move to a second room for the Seder reflection. Seder customs include drinking four cups of wine, eating matzah and the partaking of symbolic foods placed on the Passover Seder Plate. The story of the Passover is told within the story of the Israelites.
“It’s really something beautiful happening,” said Nedohon. “We have all kinds of music. There’s singing, dancing, Moses dancing. There are all kinds of sound effects, the thunder, lightning, animals, women and children screaming.”
The first Nativity Seder meal was held 10 years ago in the basement of a home. The celebration has grown throughout the years. Nedohon had to turn people away in the past due to limited space. The Riverside, which donated the space, should support a larger crowd, she said.
The Seder Meal represents a personal faith journey for Nedohon. She moved to Wisconsin in 1999 following a career as a Latin teacher in New York.
“I moved here for the Packers,” she said. “My son would dress as a Steeler and I would dress as a Packer. I always tell people that I went to see my beloved Packers and I found my beloved instead, meaning God.”
Initially, Nedohon didn’t like the Green Bay area and planned to go home in 2000. A series of events changed her mind, including an invitation to participate in her first Koinonia (a retreat based on the paschal mystery). Nedohon, who grew up in an Irish Catholic family in Boston, had been away from the church for 33 years.
Seder Meal Benefit
The Nativity of Our Lord 10th Anniversary Seder Meal will be offered at 6 p.m. April 20 at the Riverside Ballroom, Green Bay. Advance tickets are required and are available by calling Nativity Parish at (920) 499-5156. Tickets are $25 for a choice of a lamb or chicken dinner. Children 12 and younger are $10.
Proceeds benefit St. John’s Homeless Shelter. For more information, contact Connie Nedohon at (920) 632-4615.
“How they got me to a Catholic retreat in Luxemburg, I have no idea,” she said, “but the Holy Spirit did. My life took off back to God again.”
Nedohon attended a prayer group session at Nativity. She said that even though she found the prayer group session to be boring, she read more from the Book of Exodus, which the group was studying. The result was a 40-page script that would be used for the Seder meal.
The reenactment centers on a Jewish family. The cast from various parishes includes Mike Gorniak as the father, a role played by Bishop Robert Morneau in the first offering 10 years ago. Rae Wetzel will portray the mother, Bill Woods will be Moses, Jane Jelinek will be Miriam and Jack O’Neil will provide the voice of God. Brandon Anderson will play the son and Nedohon’s 7-year-old granddaughter, Madison Nedohon of Indiana, will play the daughter. Marilyn Johnson will serve as the speaker, Carolyn Steeno as the reader and Nedohon once again will be the commentator. Gail Delleman will serve as the guitarist for the production.
“Through the years I just keep meeting different people,” said Nedohon, who has returned to teaching Latin. “It’s been phenomenal. God has done so much for me in my life. I really believe that God brought me to Green Bay to find him again.”
Other area parishes also have long Seder traditions. St. Bernard Parish, Green Bay, has offered a Seder for approximately 20 years. The Seder is also an annual event at St. Willebrord Parish, Green Bay. The Quad-Parishes of Green Bay — St. Joseph, St. Patrick, St. Jude and Annunciation — hold an annual paschal meal.
Nedohon hopes the Seder has a profound effect on those who participate.
“I think they will take an appreciation of what God did to free the Israelites as people,” she said. “I want them to realize just how much God went through and how much he cared for his people.”