Christmas spirit lives on: Santa makes surprise 'off-season' visit to St. Kateri

Santa Claus, depicted by John McGrail of St. Clare of Montefalco Parish in Grosse Pointe Park, visits the children of the Rouge Family of Parishes on Jan. 22 at St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish in Dearborn. The surprise Q&A session was a chance for children to ask St. Nicholas what goes into being Santa year round, and for Santa to remind the children the real meaning of Christmas. (Photos by Daniel Meloy | Detroit Catholic)

In town to see the Detroit Lions, St. Nick covers the true meaning of Christmas, gift-giving advice during impromptu Q&A

DEARBORN — What does Santa do now that Christmas is over?

Well, if you ask him, it's not over just quite yet.

Jolly ol’ St. Nicholas made an impromptu appearance Jan. 22 at St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish in Dearborn, surprising children after a faith formation night with an informal question-and-answer session about the Christmas season.

Don't miss another story

Did you know you can get Detroit Catholic's latest daily or weekly articles delivered to your inbox? It's easy and free to sign up.

Santa Claus was in town visiting the suddenly winning Detroit Lions and decided to stop at nearby St. Kateri to spend time with the children and emphasize how the Christmas spirit can exist well past December, said Fr. Terry Kerner, pastor of St. Kateri Parish.

“He was in town for the Lions game, driving by (the reindeer get January off after their Christmas duties), because we are only a block or two away from the Lions headquarters where they work out,” Fr. Kerner told Detroit Catholic. “So he said, ‘I know the kids at St. Kateri,' so he popped by for a visit. God bless him.”

The surprise visit happened after the Rouge Family of Parishes' (St. Kateri, St. Alphonsus-St. Clement in Dearborn, St. Barbara in Dearborn and St. Maria Goretti in Dearborn Heights) regularly scheduled family faith formation night, during which children and adults go into separate classes to learn more about the faith.

Santa Claus encouraged the youth gathered at St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish to go out of their way to be kind to one another, help out their parents when they can and to keep the true meaning of Christmas alive all year.
Santa Claus encouraged the youth gathered at St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish to go out of their way to be kind to one another, help out their parents when they can and to keep the true meaning of Christmas alive all year.

The families then gathered in the parish’s community room, decked with Christmas décor and Hudson’s Teddy Bears, which parishioners have gifted Fr. Kerner for years, dating back to his time at St. John the Baptist Parish in Monroe.

The children were visited by Santa Claus, played by John McGrail, a parishioner at St. Clare of Montefalco in Grosse Pointe Park, who thanked the children for all the milk and cookies he received during his Christmas deliveries and for striving to be good boys and girls during the buildup to Christmas.

St. Nicholas reminded the children not to be disappointed if they didn’t receive everything they wanted for Christmas, noting there are many children who have it worse than them.

“Think of the kids who don’t have it so well as you,” McGrail said. “Be kind to them; when you are in school and someone is getting picked on, or maybe his clothes aren’t right, walk up to them and be friendly. There is a lot of good things I give to children, but what you give to others is even greater.”

A little girl raises her hand during a Q&A with Santa Claus allowing kids from the Rouge Family of Parishes to learn more about St. Nick after he just finished his busiest night of the year.
A little girl raises her hand during a Q&A with Santa Claus allowing kids from the Rouge Family of Parishes to learn more about St. Nick after he just finished his busiest night of the year.

The best way to keep the spirit of Christmas going is to focus on who was born during the Nativity and the gifts God gives each person, which are meant to be shared with others, he said.

“It’s important that you kids understand you have the ability to be good to each other and to help the people around you, help out at home” McGrail said. “Maybe mom and dad have to work, or they have three or four kids to take care of, so help out in the morning by getting your clothes for school ready or clean up after breakfast. Maybe you have a neighbor who is old, who needs help. Go out of your way to visit them. Shovel their sidewalk. Say 'hi.' There is nothing better for an old person than to talk to a younger person.”

The children asked questions about what Santa does at the North Pole when it’s not Christmas, what Mrs. Claus' job is, how Santa manages the elves who make the toys and how he knows which child has been naughty and nice.

“Here’s the truth of the matter: Most children are really nice, but could be better. But most are nice,” McGrail said. “Very seldom do I run into a kid that is really, really naughty. And even then, it’s temporary. We all get angry, we all get cranky, we all say things we might regret. In those situations, apologize, say, 'I didn’t mean to say that,' and we all try to do better.”

Fr. Terry Kerner, pastor of St. Kateri Parish, shares some milk and cookies with Santa Claus following during a surprise visit to St. Kateri on Jan. 22.
Fr. Terry Kerner, pastor of St. Kateri Parish, shares some milk and cookies with Santa Claus following during a surprise visit to St. Kateri on Jan. 22.

Fr. Kerner said he hopes Santa's visit reinforces that the love and good spirit of Christmas is meant to last year round.

“Tonight, (kids) learned how Christ brought a message of love and to be concerned about everybody,” Fr. Kerner said. “(They also learned) that some boys and girls don’t have it as good as them, some moms and dads don’t have it as good as them, and that they can always help out and be generous.”

Santa also provided some practical advice about Christmas — avoid asking for a puppy, he said, because dogs are a big decision that the entire family needs to make — along with maintaining the spiritual side of Christmas.

“Santa, and being Santa, is an extension of God’s creation, God’s love,” McGrail said. “The best part of my job is to bring the joy to people and to remind them Christ is the center of the season. That is something kids, and adults, need to remember.”

Fr. Kerner said the big takeaway for the St. Kateri youngsters is to realize that their faith and its traditions — the holidays, saints and customs — are real, tangible parts of their lives and part of being Christian disciples.

“The biggest thing they are going to learn is that their faith is real; it has a dynamic reality to it,” Fr. Kerner said. “They are being exposed to things in church that perhaps they aren’t normally exposed to. Events like tonight are meant to help them feel more comfortable in church, so they will want to start coming to church more, and maybe bring mom and dad along.”



Share:
Print


Christmas Parish life AOD-IAM: July Article Bottom
Menu
Home
Subscribe
Search