Nativity re-enactment ushers in Christmas

Bill Brewer Diocese of Knoxville, Hispanic, News

By Lourdes Garza

“Grupo Emanuel” again presented a rendition of the Nativity story in the Mexican tradition of a “pastorela” on Sunday, Dec. 21.

The acting group was made up of parishioners from Holy Ghost Church, Sacred Heart Cathedral and All Saints Church and members of the Comité Popular de Knoxville. The actors and crew included a multigenerational group ranging in age from 2 months old to over 60. It also involved people of several nationalities, including Mexican, Guatemalan, American, Honduran, El Salvadorian and Peruvian.

The production is considered by many to be an event more than a play because it represents the mission of family ministry: a multigenerational diverse group united for an evangelizing goal, spreading the word of God through the use of one’s talents.

The event this year was held in the St. Joseph School gym in Knoxville. In the past, it has been held at the Sacred Heart School gym. Lasting nearly three hours, the re-enactment of the birth of Jesus is acted out beginning with the Annunciation and Visitation through the birth of Jesus and the adoration of the shepherds and the gift of the Magi.

The elaborate costumes were handmade to represent angels, shepherds, Roman soldiers, Jewish dignitaries, common folk, Mary and Joseph, the three Wise Men, King Herod and his court, satan, and others. The Holy Ghost choir “Peregrinos del Señor” (pilgrims of the Lord) played traditional Hispanic Christmas carols during intermissions and scene changes.

Adults and children rushed to the stage when the baby Jesus was presented by Mary and Joseph and held cell phones to capture the moment in photos or video. When a group of angels brought the Holy Child (portrayed by a 2-month-old baby) down to the audience, a sense of awe filled the air.

The production was held following two months of practice and all family members were welcome to the practice sessions. The retelling of the Nativity story resounded through the practice sessions as it became a form of catechesis of the story the public never tires of hearing.