Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington

From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 1453, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

More than 1,000 Nativity scenes to be displayed at St. Charles Parish

the Inland Register

(From the November 19, 2015 edition of the Inland Register)

Father Tom Connolly’s collection of more than 1,000 depictions of the Nativity will be on display at St. Charles Parish, Spokane, Nov. 27-29. (IR photo courtesy of St. Charles Parish)

Father Tom Connolly’s unique collection of more than 1,000 depictions of the Nativity of Jesus will be on public display Thanksgiving weekend in the St. Charles Parish auditorium, 4515 N. Alberta St. in Spokane.

Early that week, Father Connolly, the pastor of St. Charles, and several helpers will spend many hours setting up tiered, draped table displays, placing figurines and identity cards, hanging tapestries and arranging scenery for the annual Nativity Fair.

Hours of the Nov. 27-29 showing are Friday, 1-6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; and Sunday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Admission is free, but donations will be welcomed.

The displays are large and miniature, old and new and traditional and non-traditional, made up of Nativity scenes collected from around the world, received as gifts, and purchased locally and elsewhere.

Father Connolly said his oldest set is one he and his brother bought for their parents as a joint Christmas and wedding anniversary gift in 1971, using the $100 they earned selling popcorn and peanuts at University of Oklahoma football games. The set was given to Father Connolly upon his parents’ deaths.

His parents figured in his second set as well, when he was in South Korea working a civilian job for the U.S. Army. His parents visited him there in 1987 and purchased for him a hand-carved wooden set made by Bo Hwan, a noted carver in Korea.

Many other Nativity sets were also gifts. When he was pastor at Holy Family Parish in Clarkston, Wash., his secretary, Mary Purcell, gave him at least one set a year, and he received sets from the Holy Family School staff as well.

Other Nativity depictions came as gifts from his sister, Terese, and from friends and parishioners.

He has purchased many sets in his travels throughout the world or purchased locally when he has seen something unique, such his recent acquisition of a small Amish Nativity scene. A newer gift was a Nativity done in the style of Polish pottery.

Sets also are from Thailand, Italy, Jerusalem, Holland, Spain, Africa, Japan, Indonesia, Bolivia, Ukraine, Russia, Ireland, Venezuela, Mexico and Alaska.

Though his collection now tops 1,000 Nativity depictions, Father Connolly is always looking for new and different representations. He even found a large set in a Costco store a couple of years ago.

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