Religion Notes: New life-size Nativity enriches holiday season at St. Lucy

About 200 parishioners gathered last month to dedicate the Nativity scene at St. Lucy Catholic Church in Highland Beach. The figures included a removable Jesus that could be placed in the manger on Christmas Eve. Jerry Lower/The Coastal Star

By Janis Fontaine

As cars whizzed by on A1A, about 200 parishioners from St. Lucy Catholic Church in Highland Beach gathered after dark for the big reveal of the new life-size Nativity scene. After Father Brian Horgan blessed the manger scene, someone flipped a switch and the characters came to life, with “oohs” and “aahs” all around.


The 12 full-color fiberglass figures featured the one thing the Nativity team demanded: a removable Jesus. The custom is to leave the manger empty until midnight Christmas Eve, when the baby is placed in the scene.


“We didn’t want one with the baby Jesus bolted to the cradle,” Jeannette Schmitz said.


Schmitz is the church’s director of family ministry and social outreach and was part of the volunteer team assigned to finding a suitable holy family for the knolls in front of St. Lucy. It took almost a year.


Finally, at www.catholicsupply.com for just under $10,000, the team found the “72-inch Heaven’s Majesty 12 Piece Full Nativity Set — Life Size.” Schmitz said the volunteers took a special collection for the Nativity over the summer, so the church budget didn’t have to kick in a dime. She found out that a Nativity scene “is very important to a lot of people.”


The tableau features Mary and Joseph, the three wise men, a shepherd carrying a lamb, a sheep, an ox and a donkey, and the angel of the Lord watching over the whole scene. The angel’s wings are gold and almost 7 feet tall. The detail is quite stunning. “We liked the beautiful faces and expressions,” Schmitz said.


After the lighting, parishioners gathered in Fellowship Hall for the annual Feast of St. Lucy, the church’s patron saint. The church served prime rib and snapper and au gratin potatoes.


The lighted display got immediate attention, Schmitz said. “People are stopping to take photos.”


The essence of St. Lucy, whose name means light, is light. A light in the world leading the way for Christians today just as the light of the North Star led the wise men to Bethlehem so long ago.


St. Lucy Catholic Church is at 3510 S. Ocean Blvd.


Author to speak at Unity on living better life


Dennis Merritt Jones, author of The Art of Abundance — Ten Rules for a Prosperous Life, released in 2018, will speak at services at Unity of Delray Beach on Jan. 12. This book and Jones’ two previous books — The Art of Uncertainty — How to Live in the Mystery of Life and Love It and The Art of Being — 101 Ways to Practice Purpose in Your Life — were recipients of Nautilus Awards (“Better Books for a Better World”). He offers free downloadable study guides for the books on his website.


Jones will speak about The Art of Uncertainty at the 9:15 and 11 a.m. services and will present a workshop from 1 to 3:30 p.m. to explore “Practicing the Power of Presence.”


Unity of Delray Beach is at 101 NW 22nd St. Call Unity at 276-5796 or visit www.DennisMerrittJones.com.

Human trafficking expert to speak at St. Lucy


The second annual Human Trafficking Luncheon will be held from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Jan. 28 at St. Lucy Catholic Church in Highland Beach.


The keynote speaker is Liza Smoker, an attorney and managing director of the Human Trafficking Academy at St. Thomas School of Law. She graduated from FSU with degrees in multinational business and real estate and law.


Smoker was selected as one of 60 presidential leadership scholars in 2019 for her “leadership growth potential” and “personal leadership projects aimed at improving civic engagement or social good,” and Place of Hope will honor Smoker with its first Illumination Award.


Proceeds from the luncheon will benefit Place of Hope’s human trafficking prevention and education programs. The programs include screenings of a documentary on human trafficking in South Florida and presentations to community, corporate, civic and religious groups. Experts agree the best weapon against this epidemic is education.


Tickets to the luncheon are $55. Sponsorships are available.


For tickets or information, visit www.placeofhoperinker.org/humantraffickingluncheon.

Interfaith conference to address bigotry


JAM & ALL is an organization of Jews, Muslims, Christians and people of all other faiths or no faith who come together to discuss important issues.


On Feb. 1 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., JAM will host a conference called “Transforming Bigotry and Hate: From Awareness to Action,” led by keynote speaker Arno Michaelis at the Lynn College of Nursing at FAU Boca Raton, 777 Glades Road.


Michaelis used to be a white supremacist, and he will share what drew him to white supremacy and what led to his transformation away from it.


Also part of the conference is “Managing Your Prejudices” by Gail Price-Wise, president of the Florida Center for Cultural Competence.


Tickets, which include a box lunch, are $25 in advance at www.eventbrite.com. Tickets will be $30 at the door. The conference is free for FAU students with ID. For more information, call 289-4621 or 251-5336.


For more about JAM & ALL, visit jamandallinterfaith.net.

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