Lights of Christmas shine from North Prairie

Three shepherds gathered around a fire greeted visitors to the first Lights of Christmas at Holy Cross Church in North Prairie, Dec. 1. Pictured are (from left): Emily Popp, Lisa Keppers and Daniel Borash.

First-time Advent event celebrates the light of Christ in each person

By Jennie ZeitlerStaff Writer 

Joan Keppers has attended an Advent light event in Willmar for many years and recently took along a friend, Ann Borash. They were very moved and felt it would be a good idea to do something similar at their home church of Holy Cross in North Prairie.

Then the question rose of where, exactly, to host an event like that. It was while Keppers was walking through the vacant parish house in North Prairie during another event, that she realized it would be the perfect location.

“We wanted a large enough place with separate areas for people to stop, look and listen as they walked through,” said Borash. “This is a self-guided, meditative journey for people to ponder the true meaning of Christmas.”

“We wanted to incorporate the feel of that first Christmas with today’s culture,” Keppers said.

Panels of the five luminous mysteries of the rosary were painted by Royalton artist James Daly. The panel pictured is the Transfiguration.

The event, held Dec. 1 – 2, featured lights in many forms, from a fire lit near the parking lot keeping the waiting shepherds warm, to lights shining into the foggy night from the belfry, luminaries lining the sidewalk, brightly lit Christmas trees filling the front entry of the parish house and strings of lights throughout the house and yard.

One room featured angels in the form of those people attending World Youth Day events around the world. Rob Schumer spoke about the Annunciation, about Mary saying “yes” to God.

“Because she said ‘yes’, the light of Christ shone through her. That same light shines in the young people attending World Youth Day,” Schumer said.

Schumer attended the 2005 World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany, with a group of 21 people from around Minnesota, through Catholic Aid.

In 2008, he and a group of 29 people from the youth group he leads and the greater St. Cloud area traveled to the World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia.

In 2011, Schumer went with a group of 15 youths and adults to Madrid’s World Youth Day. The youth group from North Prairie includes people from Bowlus, Elmdale, Upsala and St. Francis. A youth from Royalton also went to Madrid in 2011.

“A group of 10 youths and adults are planning to attend the next World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2013,” said Schumer. “The journey is open to anyone interested in going. So far, several youth group members and one young student from Winona are planning to go.”

The Lights of Christmas included a craft room, where children could put together Christmas decorations. Live music was performed by various groups. The former kitchen was transformed by lights around the room and many nativities sitting on every shelf, counter and table in the room.

Just before exiting the house, visitors stopped in the back porch to view five scenes depicting the five luminous mysteries of the rosary. These scenes were painted on 6-foot-high panels by Royalton artist James Daly.

“I was trying to capture the likeness of stained glass windows,” Daly said. “They always look so nice when there is light shining behind them.”

“Between 400 and 500 people came through, and we’re very happy with that,” Borash said. “We had no idea what to expect. Many people said to please do it again.”