Neenah parish offers Stations of the Nativity

By Sam Lucero | The Compass | December 2, 2020

Outdoor Advent activity allows prayer opportunity during pandemic

NEENAH — Most Catholics are familiar with the Stations of the Cross, a Lenten reflection that follows Jesus’ journey to crucifixion. But what about the Stations of the Nativity?

This unheralded Advent reflection, based on the Stations of the Cross, gives participants an opportunity to reflect on the biblical journey of Jesus’ birth. It begins with the Annunciation in the first station and concludes with the Magi visiting the newborn king in the 14th station.

Amy Bolle, pictured at far right, leads the Stations of the Nativity on Sunday, Nov. 29. About 40 people turned out for the guided reflection at St. Margaret Mary Church in Neenah. The stations are open to anyone wishing to observe Advent in a prayerful way. (Sam Lucero | The Compass)

St. Margaret Mary Parish is offering the Stations of the Nativity during the season of Advent, according to Amy Bolle, director of religious education at the Neenah parish.

Bolle said the Advent stations came about after a discussion with Fr. Dennis Bergsbaken, pastor. “He said, ‘What are we going to do to keep people connected when they are not coming to church for the Advent season?’” Bolle told The Compass. “Because of the pandemic, our numbers are low, as they are with every church, and I just started to think about something we could do outside. It kind of hit me to do the Stations of the Nativity.”

According to Bolle, the Advent stations are based on a book, “The Stations of the Crib: A Journey of Hope from Advent to Epiphany,” by Precious Blood Fr. Joseph Nassal. “I originally had done this at another parish, so I thought, ‘We can put stations up around the campus and it can take us through the journey to Jesus’ birth.’”

With the help of numerous volunteers and parish staff members, Bolle and her husband, David, purchased plywood to create the 14 stations that were placed around the church campus. “We got volunteers to paint the different stations and it all came together like within two weeks,” she said. 

On Sunday, Nov. 29, Bolle led a guided journey of the stations for about 40 people who turned out on a cool evening. Reflection guides were printed and handed out. Those who want to pray and reflect on the stations during Advent can do so by printing out the guide found on the parish website. “They can come, day or night, whenever they want to do it and walk around the St. Margaret Mary campus,” she added.

Guests use flashlights and smartphones to illuminate their Stations of the Nativity prayer sheets Nov. 29. (Sam Lucero | The Compass)

Bolle said the Stations of the Nativity offer individuals and families an opportunity to celebrate Advent in the midst of a pandemic.

“When you look at Christianity, you can’t have the death (of Jesus) without the birth and can’t have the birth without the death” and resurrection, she said. “Why can’t we connect with the Stations of the Cross, that we usually do during Lent, but make them all about what happened with the birth of Jesus? 

“So we have the visitation, the flight into Egypt, the baptism of John the Baptist — all of those events that occurred and that take us to the birth of Jesus,” Bolle added. “People can do this as families, they can social distance, they don’t necessarily have to wear a mask. I just think it’s something different that I hope people utilize through the Advent season.”

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