Santa and Mrs. Claus welcome a big crowd of kids to the Motherhouse

December 10, 2018 by

It was standing room only for a while as families packed the Nazareth Motherhouse auditorium for the annual Christmas Open House on Dec. 9. Crisp winter weather and the return of last year’s popular Santa and Mrs. Claus — who on other days are known as Dell Lee and Annette Boswell of Leon, Iowa — led to some long lines through the auditorium and snaking out into the lobby.

“This Santa and Mrs. Claus are just the best,” said Sister Marilyn Wall. “They are so good with all of the kids and take time to talk with them.”

Santa and Mrs. Claus posed for photos with all the children during the free event.

“Say Pepsi!” Santa Claus said. When one of the children asked why, Santa said, “You can’t say Pepsi and frown.”

Immediately several of the kids tried it. Santa was right.

Liam Rodriguez, 4, of Concordia, was one of the first to sit on Santa’s lap and animatedly discuss his Christmas list.

“He was scared last year and wouldn’t go up,” said Liam’s dad, Rafael Rodriguez. “This year he wasn’t scared at all. We reminded him there would be cookies afterwards.”

Many Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia were on hand to serve ice-cold milk and punch and a selection of Christmas cookies to the crowds waiting to meet Santa.

“I think we served somewhere between 400 and 500 cookies,” Larry Metro, food service supervisor for the Sisters of St. Joseph, said. “And at least 10 gallons of punch.”

Other Sisters directed guests through the historic Motherhouse so that visitors could view the Heritage Center and the many Christmas decorations.

This year’s event also offered a drawing for a free door prize. The door prize was a set of eight Christmas ornaments that were sliced from the 64-year-old blue spruce trees that were cut down at the Motherhouse last winter. Snowflakes were hand-drawn on the wood slices to make a memento that will hold a piece of Motherhouse history. The prize was won by Ava Day, who was there with her mom, Latisha Day.

Some people might wonder why a convent would offer a visit with Santa, said President Jean Rosemarynoski, CSJ.

“We do it for several reasons. Many young families have not met religious sisters and this is an opportunity for a short visit with sisters, a tour of the Motherhouse and to learn more about us,” Sister Jean said. “One older child said he came specifically, ‘to see the nuns.’

“Having Santa at the Motherhouse also provides an opportunity for a no-cost, fun experience between parents and children. There are coloring sheets for the kids and parents sit with them at the table,” Sister Jean said. “We had a set of great-grandparents who are raising a 5-year-old great-granddaughter. They were appreciative of having a place to take her and give her this experience.

“There were foster parents who explained that their three young boys had never had normal childhood activities, and she was grateful to bring them to a place that would be warm and welcoming,” Sister Jean said.

“I was so happy with the crowd we had,” Ambria Gilliland, assistant director of development, said. “Seeing the joy on the kids’ faces truly made the whole event worth the work.”

 

 

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