Christmas through the eyes of a child: Children’s Christmas Mass at Sacred Heart of Jesus Church

Mary Hovater

The cast at the dress rehearsal Thursday afternoon

CULLMAN – Almost every church, be it high church or low church, traditional or contemporary, from the classical parish hall to the rented storefront, has its Christmas traditions.  This time of year, we see "hanging of the green," "carols by candlelight" and cantatas galore.

At Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in downtown Cullman, one of the most treasured and anticipated traditions of the season features its children: the annual Christmas Eve Children's Mass, featuring the Christmas Pageant.  Children from the church and school put on their costumes and become Mary and Joseph, angels, shepherds and wise men.  There are even animals: the two-legged variety in the adorable fuzzy suits!

Not only is it touching to see children expressing their faith in their own wonderful way, it's fun too!  Children will be children: during this year's dress rehearsal one particularly young little lamb was corralled as he made his escape down the main aisle, while two other critters wrestled around the manger.  Baby Jesus didn't seem to mind, and for the rest of us, it was precious.  It's never perfect, but it’s always the perfect accent to this season for the families and parishioners who attend.

Mary Hovater's boys started participating in the pageant 12 years ago, and for the last 10 years, she has been the director, stage manager and probably a few other things. 

She said, "There is just something about children that help us remember what Christmas is about.  Each year the children tell me this is their birthday gift to Jesus.  It's so precious and could warm even the coldest of hearts.  They make my Christmas extra special every year."

Around 50 children will take part, and lots of family and friends will be coming to see.  Hovater anticipates a tremendous turnout, as the Children's Mass is traditionally one of the best-attended events on the Parish calendar. 

"It's always a packed church," she attested.  "I'm talking standing room only, and not much of that."

Hovater continued, "We at Sacred Heart truly understand and recognize that our children are our future, and we strive to enrich their lives in every facet.  So, there is something going on all the time here for little ones to older teens.  And I am so glad that where I learned to find my moral compass and love my Lord is the same place my boys are learning and finding it too, as well as all the other children.  If you haven't visited Sacred Heart or have been curious about us, I invite you to come and join us for a beautiful way to bring in Christmas. Everyone is welcome, and is always welcome, to be part of our church family, even if just for one service."

The Children's Christmas Mass and Pageant takes place on Christmas Eve, this Saturday at 4 p.m. in the main church, located at 112 Second Ave. SE in Cullman.


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