Parishes map out Advent treats and lights

By Patricia Kasten | The Compass | December 9, 2020

“Follow the Light: A Drive-Thru Lights Adventure” set for Dec. 13 in De Pere and Allouez

ALLOUEZ — Looking for something sweet or something bright to remind you that it’s Advent and Christmas is coming? You can find both, and more, at the “Follow the Light: A Drive-Thru Lights Adventure” on Dec. 13 in De Pere and Allouez.

The Sunday evening event, from 5 to 7 p.m., is sponsored by Resurrection (Allouez), St. Francis Xavier (De Pere) and St. Mary (Ledgeview) churches.

The drive-thru event can be started at any of the three parishes. Maps to special Christmas light displays will be handed out at each parish:

  •       Resurrection, 333 Hilltop Drive;
  •       St. Mary, 4805 Sportsman Drive;
  •       St. Francis Xavier, (event held at 137 S. Superior, Notre Dame School).

“We’re also all enjoying our research to make the maps,” said Jenni Harris, business manager at Resurrection. “We have split up neighborhoods and our team goes ‘light looking’ each evening.”

The idea is to journey around the neighborhoods, enjoying Christmas displays that have been nominated by each of the parishes. The maps were designed by Katie McAllister of Resurrection.

Besides the light displays, each church is having parking lot “pit stops” with music, treats and other goodies.

“This was such a fun way for the churches to pull together our collective efforts and make a fun, larger event for the community overall,” explained Amberly Boerschinger, digital discipleship coordinator at St. Francis Xavier and St. Mary.

“It basically came out of one of the ‘Christ, Coffee and Communication’ meetings (hosted for parish leaders by the Diocese of Green Bay),” Boerschinger said, “when we were discussing ways we could impact the community during this unusual holiday season and it just grew from there. We are neighboring churches and the leadership has always wanted to make stronger connections between the churches, and we felt like offering some ‘pit stops’ on a holiday lights adventure would be a neat way to engage not just our members but the whole community. The Facebook event (bit.ly/2VNFuGn) currently has 3,300 people interested.” 

The pit stop highlights are different at each church:

St. Mary’s volunteers baked more than 700 treats focused on St. Lucia (Lucy) and will give out glow sticks — representing Lucia’s candles.

“It’s the feast of St. Lucy on Dec. 13,” explained Jane Charnetski, faith formation coordinator for Pre-K through grade 4. “So we’re embracing the celebration of her day at the St. Mary location by having three or four girls dressed up as St. Lucy wearing her customary white dress with a red sash and a crown of candles. Legend has it St. Lucy wore a crown of candles to light her way when she took food to the Christians hiding from persecution in the catacombs.”

“Each car will also receive the story of St. Lucy that they can read as they drive around looking at the lights,” Charnetski added.

There will also be luminaries and a bonfire.

The St. Francis Xavier drive-thru will be at the new Notre Dame of De Pere School and have a sky angel display where families can post “prayer requests.” There will also be a nonperishable food drop-off site and a blessing by Fr. Mike Ingold, pastor, for each family.

“The sky of angels at St. Francis Xavier/Notre Dame of De Pere will simply be a large black sheet behind our Nativity,” Boerschinger explained, “where we will pin small white angels with families’ prayer intentions. They will be given the angel as they pull up to Notre Dame of De Pere School where they can take a moment to write prayers or names as they hand their food items to our site hosts to be placed around our manger.”

Resurrection will have hot cocoa and a luminary craft for cars, as well as a blessing of baby Jesus statues. Parish members have been purchasing strands of Christmas lights to use at the event in honor of loved ones.

“We are all feeling so blessed, as faith communities, to be able to put on this safe experience for anyone and everyone in our neighborhoods,” Boerschinger said. “We hope it will be a way that we can literally shine Jesus’ love into the weary world during this unusual Advent season.”

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