Notre Dame Regional High School

Cape Girardeau, MO

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Notre Dame Hosts 20th Annual Student-Portrayed Living Nativity

Notre Dame Regional High School hosted their 20th Annual Living Nativity on Friday, Dec. 13. 

Director of Campus Ministry, Sarah Strohmeyer said it’s become quite a tradition at the school, taking place each year following communion at their Advent Christmas Liturgy. 

As is the case with many traditions at Notre Dame, the living nativity started with the appointment of Brother David in 1999. A member of the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn, the former principal decided to give his students the opportunity to be involved in the solemn commemoration of Jesus’ birth, especially considering its attribution to St. Francis. 

“[St. Francis] was trying to teach the townspeople about the birth of Jesus. So he called local farmers in Greccio, Italy to bring their livestock, called a family who had a baby, and illustrated what that story is,” said Strohmeyer. “It’s important for our students to see the living nativity, and I love the way we do it.” 

A senior girl and boy are selected each year to play Mary and Joseph, with several students standing near as what Strohmeyer said can be understood as “angels.” 

“We have them walk down the center aisle two-by-two, onto the stage. They’re followed by Mary and Joseph, who are in costume,” said Strohmeyer. “We always have a baby from a couple in the community to play Jesus, and many times it’s the child of one of our teachers.” 

This year, Jesus was portrayed by the daughter of Notre Dame science teacher, Josie Menz. Once she was placed in Mary’s arms, faculty member Anita Layton read the poem, One Solitary Life by James Allen Francis, followed by a performance by Notre Dame’s Concert Choir. Strohmeyer said this moment has always been symbolic to her. 

“It’s kind of like they’re offering their child to the Blessed Mother,” said Strohmeyer. “Then, when the couple comes back to get their baby, it’s like the Blessed Mother then gives her child to the world.” 

Joseph was portrayed by senior Blake Morris, who said the living nativity is a great opportunity to prepare everyone for the coming of Christ. 

“It gets everybody in the spirit and sets the tone for the rest of the season,” said Morris. 

Senior Abbey Brandon was selected to act as the Blessed Mother and despite a fussy baby Jesus, was still able to appreciate the opportunity. 

“It was probably really hard for [Mary] because no one would take her in, and she had to go to a stable to give birth to the Son of God. But she was still accepting of her situation,” said Brandon. 

“Normally in textbooks, we’re just looking at a picture. But when you’re seeing the live nativity, you get to see real people, and it’s a clearer image than just reading about it.”

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