‘Snacks and Stories with Advent Saints’ brings religious spirit back to Christmas

Dressed as Advent saints are, from left, Raelee Ostrander as St. Lucy, Angelina Iannacone as St. Barbara, Mary Sweeny as St. Adelaide, Genevieve Iannacone as Our Lady of Guadalupe, Deacon Owen South as St. Nicholas, Anthony Sweeney as St. Francis Xavier, Adam Ostrander as St. Andrew the Apostle and Nicholas Sweeney as St. Ambrose on Saturday at the Snacks and Stories with Advent Saints event at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Martyrs in Auriesville. (The Leader-Herald/Eric Retzlaff)

AURIESVILLE — Every year, Jesus and St. Nicholas seem to many Christians to get lost in the busyness and fanfare of the Christmas season.

Knights of Columbus Council 16861 at the Shrine of Our Lady of Martyrs tried to do its part Saturday in bringing the religious spirit back into the season, “to help promote the idea of keeping Christ in Christmas,” said council grand knight Eric Mazzone of Amsterdam.

The Snacks and Stories with Advent Saints gave youngsters the opportunity to dress up like some of the saints of the Advent season, whose feast days precede Christmas—some well known, others not well known. They also heard religious stories and created Christmas crafts.

St. Nicholas, bishop of Myra in Asia Minor, was played by Deacon Owen South; St. Lucy by Kaelee Ostrander; St. Barbara by Angelina Iannacone; St. Adelaide by Mary Sweeny, Our Lady of Guadalupe by Genevieve Iannacone; St. Francis Xavier by Anthony Sweeney; St. Andrew the Apostle by Adam Ostrander; and St. Ambrose by Nicholas Sweeney.

Angelina Iannacone, Mary Sweeney and South were among those who read stories to the children. Anthony Sweeney spoke about the life of St. Francis Xavier, who was a Jesuit missionary to China. “I like doing this for the kids to show them what the saints are about,” said Mary Sweeney.

Kelly Ostrander of Princetown said she brought her six children to the shrine “so my kids could enjoy the stories and the crafts.”

Jason Walter of St. Louis, Mo., said he came to the event because “it’s the holiest place in North America.”

“It’s pretty amazing the story of what happened here.” He was referring to the martyrdom of three Jesuit missionaries by Native Americans.

Rosemary Mazzone of Schenectady said she has been visiting the shrine “all of my life” and was very pleased with the day’s events.

“We got to see these beautiful children dressed up as saints,” she said.

Half the auditorium was a gift shop filled with religious items, sold to aid the shrine. The bake sale was a fundraiser for the Knights of Columbus council.

By Josh Bovee

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