New pageant director Monica Windham with daughter Jordan Windham (L) and niece Anna Hilb (R) / W.C. Mann
CULLMAN – At Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in downtown Cullman, the annual Christmas Eve Children's Mass featuring the Christmas Pageant has become a tradition. Around 30 children from the congregation dress up as Mary and Joseph, angels, shepherds, wise men and fuzzy-suited animals. In the middle of the parish’s Christmas Eve afternoon Mass, the group will recreate the Nativity story for family, friends, and visitors.
Mary Hovater, who directed the pageant for years, said, "There is just something about children that helps 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."
With the younger of her boys no longer a child, Hovater handed over the reins this year to Monica Windham, whose own kids are pageant veterans.
In speaking to The Tribune, Windham was careful to insist that hers is part of a team effort that includes a fair bit of family help. “My sister Natalie Hilb and I are directing it, assuming responsibility from Mary, who’s passing it on to us. My daughter Jordan has been working with all the readers, and Anna Hilb, my niece, has been helping organize the children in the back. So it’s a big family effort this year getting it together!
“Kelly Albright has been volunteering, and Mary is still a big part of helping us; and of course the choir with Jacqueline (Hill, youth minister) and Fharis (Richter, director of religious education). Since it’s our first year taking over, we have a lot of help! We’re just happy to have all the kids participate, that are willing to come for the practices.”
Music for the Mass and Pageant will be led by the Sacred Heart Family Choir, and will include “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” “Rise Up, Shepherds, and Follow,” “We Three Kings,” “What Child Is This,” “Away in a Manger,” “Silent Night,” “O Come, Little Children” and “Joy to the World.”
The Sacred Heart of Jesus Church Children’s Mass and Pageant will be Sunday, Dec. 24 at 4 p.m. in the main church. The parish will hold Christmas Day Masses at midnight (beginning of Christmas Day), 10 a.m., and Spanish language Mass at 5 p.m.
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