Saturday, December 10, 2011

Advent and Christmas Activities at St. Catherine’s

Advent has arrived, and St. Catherine’s is preparing for a “Messy Christmas Pageant” to be presented on December 17 by the participants in Messy Church. The pageant is only one of many seasonal activities that St. Catherine’s has sponsored over the years during Advent and Christmas.

Apart from the pre-Christmas bazaar, perhaps the first seasonal activity was the children’s Christmas party. A few months after his arrival in 1911, St. Catherine’s first rector, H. Fane Edge, gave what the Coquitlam Star described as “a delightful little Christmas Party for the children of Coquitlam.” The event was held in the Municipal Hall. Mr. Edge sang three songs, which he illustrated with lantern views. Each child received a piece of iced cake and Christmas present. The following year, the Women’s Auxiliary (forerunner to the current ACW) sponsored a children’s Christmas party in the Agricultural Hall. The children received gifts purchased with funds raised from a social tea held at the home of Mrs. George Mouldy. Annual Christmas parties continued for several years, although they began to include only the children of the congregation rather than all local children.

My favourite memory of a seasonal activity at St. Catherine’s is the “Nativity Project”. This family activity began in Advent 1990 and continued for four years. Parents and children (and perhaps a few grandparents) gathered in the church hall to paint figures and create nativity scenes for their homes. In the first year there were 75 participants with each family painting figures of the Holy Family. The following years, new figures were added to the scene: shepherds one year and the three kings another year.
Members of the congregation have contributed crafts that brighten the sanctuary during Advent and Christmas. Leslie Hammond gave an angel wall hanging. Bernie Poitras presented hand-carved nativity figures, which he had made. Although the figures were given “on loan,” after ten years Mary and Joseph still appear in the church each Advent to be joined by the Baby Jesus and other Nativity figures on Christmas.

In the Christmas 2002 issue of the Courier the Wardens (Dale Riley, Tony Sauder and Jim Simpson) made the following observations: “What does the upcoming Christmas season mean to St. Catherine’s? Well, first it means we are still actively worshiping as an Anglican congregation in Port Coquitlam. Second, it also means we see a role for our Church in the community. This year, for the first time, Paul’s Place will provide a hot Christmas Dinner those in our community that may not have their own dinner. And when the meal is served our seniors and others in the parish and Trinity United will join them as a community, sharing a meal and the peace of the Christmas season together. And finally, we will be celebrating the Christmas Eve Eucharist with our neighbors St. John the Divine, Port Moody, not as guests but together as joint participants. Yes, we are still here, we have found a role for us in community outreach, and we are reaching out to our Anglican neighbors.”

This year St. Catherine’s continues its role in the community with old and newer traditions. The Nativity figures that used to appear annually at the church on McAllister are now on display at the Outlet in Leigh Square until the end of December. The church will hold its annual Senior’s Christmas lunch on December 20 and a community dinner on January 14. Of course, there will be services on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and a "longest night" service on December 21. Details of the services are available at