hc messiah chorusHoly Cross Music Director Don Carolina conducts the Holy Cross Choir accompanied by professional soloists and chamber orchestra.

RUMSON, NJ – The season of Advent can easily get lost in the shuffle of holiday preparations, but Holy Cross Parish helps its parishioners pace the days until Christmas with several beloved annual events that help prepare their hearts and minds for the true meaning of the season.

The First Sunday of Advent, December 2nd, brought over fifty families to the St. Joseph meeting room after the 10:30 a.m. Mass for Advent Wreath Making. Each family received a bag with everything they needed to create a beautiful Advent wreath for their home, as well as expert advice from friendly volunteers.

hc wreath3

Anna Dickson displays her family’s Advent wreath.

hc wreath8

The Ardolina family creates their Advent wreath together.

The Second Sunday of Advent, December 9th, marked the third annual Messiah concert. Led by Music Director Mr. Don Carolina, and accompanied by professional chamber soloists and musicians, the Holy Cross Choir performed George Frideric Handel’s Messiah, Part 1. The emotional and inspiring music brought the crowd to its feet for the “Hallelujah” chorus.

hc messiah 10

Holy Cross Music Director, and conductor of the Messiah concert, Don Carolina.

hc messiah orchestra

Chamber orchestra, left to right, Ashley Horne, Violin I; Cliff Bernzweig, Violin II; Minju Lee, Continuo (Harpsichord); Elina Lang, Cello; Chiho Saegusa, Bass; and David Gold, Viola.

To help the children of the parish remember the true meaning of Christmas, Pastor Fr. Michael Manning hosted the annual Blessing of the Crèche and Tree Lighting on December 13th. After readings and songs in the church, and the blessing of children’s own Baby Jesus statues from their home crèches, the crowd of families moved outside where Fr. Manning blessed the life-sized crèche in the parish prayer garden. Students played the roles of Mary, Joseph and two shepherds, while a live donkey, “Dinkey” by name, played the faithful donkey who accompanied them on their journey to Bethlehem. Sheep and goats milled about in their pen and graciously accepted the affection of many children. The Holy Cross School PTA opened the gym for hot cocoa and cookies to top off the night.

hc creche 14

Joseph and Mary, played by 8th graders Michael Furlong and Bridget Johnston, with their faithful donkey, Dinkey.

hc creche 23

Fifth graders, left to right, Patrick Bindler, Christian Ramos and O’Hara Kane-Assatly, pet the visiting goat.

Advent also saw the culmination of the annual Stars for Jesus program, in which parishioners fulfill the Christmas wishes of over 600 local children and adults in need. Twenty bicycles topped the list of gifts of all shapes and sizes collected and distributed by a dedicated group of parish volunteers. Santa did not allow photographs of this clandestine operation.