Photos by Frank J. Methe, Clarion Herald
Merry Christmas from our students!
The Council of Catholic School Cooperative Clubs sponsors the annual Keep Christ in Christmas poster, essay and poetry contest. The Office of Catholic Schools selected winners in three divisions: grades 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12. The contest is promoted by the Christ in Christmas Committee, which coordinates the placement of “Keep Christ in Christmas” billboards throughout the Archdiocese of New Orleans. This year, 59 billboards, including four Spanish-language boards, were put up around the metro area! To donate to the billboard cause for 2018, go to www.keepchristinchristmasnola.org.
12th grade, Archbishop Chapelle High School, Metairie
Savannah Smith’s winning “Keep Christ in Christmas” poster (above) was used by the Office of Catholic Schools for its Christmas card. Savannah said of her drawing: “The Christmas star on top of the tree symbolizes the star that led the wise men to the birth of Jesus. I imagined Jesus holding his hands around the star to show that there will always be a light to guide us. We should always keep in our thoughts everything that has come from just a tiny bit of faith. We should recognize the Christmas tree as a guide for us to celebrate Jesus’ birthday and be grateful for everything he’s done. May that little star help us to always remember that, ‘Deus Providebit, God Will Provide,’ which is Chapelle’s motto.”
Riley Elmer, 4th grade, St. Clement of Rome School, Metairie
Riley’s reflection: “When I think of ‘Keep Christ in Christmas,’ I think of Jesus, because that’s when he was born. The meaning of my poster is that on Christmas day, I think about both Santa and Jesus. That is why I chose to have Santa bowing in front of Jesus.
Aiden DeSalvo, 6th grade, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School, Kenner
Aiden’s reflection: “I was trying to show how Jesus is an inspiration to all of us. We should not be concerned about where we come from or what our background is; what matters is who we are. Jesus came from extremely humble beginnings, but he is the Savior of the world.”
ST. MARY MAGDALEN SCHOOL, METAIRIE
A star shining bright
With so many things going on
we sometimes lose sight,
of the real meaning of Christmas
on its cold winter night.
When we worry about all the little things
like presents or toys or how much they cost,
The real spirit and joy of Christmas
then becomes lost.
We all hope to see Santa
with his reindeer and sleigh,
as we forget about the baby
who laid in a bed of hay.
When we look up into the dark sky,
we don’t see Santa or his sleigh,
instead we see a star shining bright and high.
Christmas time is a reminder,
of the birth of a child long ago,
whose name we call Jesus
the savior we all love and know.
ST. BENILDE SCHOOL, METAIRIE
Be kind to others
Keeping Christ in Christmas is easy for me
It’s all about how God wants us to be.
Christmas is about Jesus being born
He’s the Savior of our lives so rejoice with Horns.
Giving of yourself during the Season
Just help someone for no reason.
Jesus wants us to be kind to others
He will fill your heart with love for one another.
Christmas is not about presents or toys
It’s about the Lord’s love for girls and boys.
Keeping Christ in Christmas is important to me
It’s the way Jesus wants us to be
So spread the word and you will be free
To feel Jesus’ presence on earth, just like me.
MOUNT CARMEL ACADEMY, NEW ORLEANS
The forgotten reason
Long, forgotten, there is a reason
That we hold dear this Christmas season
Over time the lines have blurred
From the true meaning that we’ve heard.
Once upon a time, or so it goes
A great story everyone knows
It tells of old and new alike
What really happened that fateful night
A journey is made across the land
To see the miracle that is at hand
Some will come from far and wide
Following a star that they must abide
There is more to this story than what it told
A hidden meaning in our hearts we hold
Full of love and new beginnings
Jesus is responsible for all our winnings
Christmas is a time to celebrate a birth
One that gives us life on this earth
It is not just presents and gifts galore
But of beauty and grace and so much more
Now this reason we must remember
When Christmas comes this December
We must never forget it in the midst of celebrations
As well as to spread this knowledge throughout the nations.
ST. RITA SCHOOL, HARAHAN
My Christmas prayer
When most people think of Christmas, they probably think of Santa, cookies and presents. But, we should really be thinking of Christ. Christmas is a day of family and friends, not presents and decorations. You should keep Christ in Christmas because it is Jesus’ birthday.
I keep Christ in Christmas by reading the Christmas story before my sister and I open presents from the family and Santa. The tradition of reading the Christmas story before we open presents is special to me because my family does it every year. The tradition is so awesome.
Putting up the nativity set during the holidays is also very important to me. My whole family does the same tradition every year. When I leave my house to turn the Christmas tree off or go into my house to turn the Christmas tree on, I see the nativity set and think of Jesus. Most people think that the Christmas tree is the most important decoration, but the nativity scene is the center decoration.
I like to wish Jesus a happy birthday by putting a star on top of my Christmas tree. The star reminds me of the star the Wise Men followed to Jesus after he was born. Sometimes, I put an angel on top of my tree to remind me of the Angel Gabriel who told Mary our mother that she was going to have baby Jesus. Most nativity sets don’t have a star included in it. That is why I like to put the nativity set underneath my Christmas tree. Another thing is we can remember the star the Wise Men followed.
I remember last Christmas my family was over, and before we ate, my grandpa said a special prayer to God. I feel that every Christmas is so special because of that prayer. Over the years, that prayer has been memorized by me. So, this year I hope to take over with the tradition, and before we get to eat a delicious meal I get to say the same prayer.
Keeping Christ in Christmas is important to me because of the traditions that have been made become really special to me. So, remember these things during the holidays. When I get older, I hope to carry on these traditions. So, keep Christ in your Christmas!
ST. PIUS X SCHOOL, NEW ORLEANS
Take time to find Jesus
Hurry! Hurry! Hurry! Rush! Rush! Rush!
Time is running out! It’s almost Christmas day, and there’s so much left to do! How we get it all done?
We still have to put up the Christmas tree, decorate the house, get gifts for friends and make Christmas cookies. The list goes on and on and on … this is what we here every year at Christmas time.
Everyone wants the perfect Christmas. But IS this the perfect Christmas?
Sometimes in trying to have the perfect Christmas, we actually miss the perfect Christmas.
Jesus is not in the hectic pace of Christmas preparation. Jesus is in the little moments leading up to Christmas. For me, Jesus is in the joy of my little brother making his ornament with glue and glitter mess everywhere.
Jesus is in the happiness of my little sister singing Christmas carols around the house constantly!
Jesus is in the warmth of spending time with my family and friends.
Jesus is in the beauty of the nativity play performed at school.
Jesus is in the twinkling lights on our Christmas tree, which remind us that Jesus is the light of the world.
Jesus is in the spirit of loving and caring for those in need that seems to be everywhere at Christmas.
You can find Jesus anywhere – if you take the time to look.
So, this year, instead of listening to the voice in your head that says, Hurry! Hurry! Hurry! Rush! Rush! Rush! you should listen to the voice of God in your heart that is telling you, Slow Down, Slow Down, Slow Down. Breathe, Breathe, Breathe. Because if you do, you’ll be surprised to find Christ in your Christmas.
And isn’t that the perfect Christmas after all?
ST. CHARLES CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL, LAPLACE
The face of Jesus seen in serving poor
When most people think of Christmas, they think of giving and receiving presents. The true meaning of Christmas is about giving, but it is not about giving presents. The true meaning of Christmas is about giving and sharing God’s love with everyone, especially those who are less fortunate than us.
Being part of my parish youth group, I have been blessed to have experienced sharing God’s love with those who are in need. Our parish started a program called Bags of Love. As part of this program, our CYO group fills bags with items such as toothpaste, socks, gloves, hats, different non-perishable foods and candy, and we distribute these bags to the homeless at Ozanam Inn in New Orleans. We give the bags to the homeless people who come there on Sunday nights for a hot meal while we help prepare and serve the meals to those who show up to eat.
When I first looked into the faces of the clients at the inn, I felt sadness. I wanted to be able to help them in any way I could, but I felt unsure whether I would be able to give the clients what they really needed.
Then I decided to take the advice of the leader who organizes the dinners, who suggested that we just smile and speak to the men. He reminded us that these men are people just like us but have been through a hard time. They appreciate all that we bring them, he added, but they would love for us just to talk to them or smile at them.
So, I did this. That is when I realize that by looking into the faces of these men, I saw the face of Jesus.
The clients wanted to be approached and heard, to be treated with love and respect, and not to be ignored or disregarded as they had been on the streets.
One man dropped his plate of food and began to holler and curse. I approached him and told him I would get him another plate of food. He thanked me and began to cry. He told me he was upset because he had no place to sleep that night. We were able to find him another shelter that did have an opening for that night. The man thanked me from the bottom of his heart.
This was when I no longer felt sadness but learned the meaning of giving.
When I saw how much the clients appreciated getting a pair of socks or candy bar, or appreciated my smile or conversation with them, I understood the true meaning of Christmas. Christmas is about giving, the giving of God’s love, especially to those less fortunate.