Parishioners Bring Bethlehem to San Francisco

Spectacular ‘life-size’ nativity scene attracts many faithful to Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption

By Francisco Valdez

VER EN ESPAÑOL – Lucy Michel, a Cathedral Parishioner talks about How Parishioners Bring Bethlehem to San Francisco

Five Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption parishioners dedicated their time, talent, and treasure to build a life-size nativity scene commemorating San Francisco’s patron, St. Francis of Assisi, who created the first nativity scene 800 years ago in a small grotto near a village called Greccio.

“The nativity scene is a good way for all Christians to visualize their faith and to show both children and adults that through the image of the nativity, we can remember that Jesus is at the center of our lives,” said Lucy Michel, Cathedral parishioner who organized the 12-foot-high nativity scene effort.

Michel was joined by other faithful parishioners who contributed their creativity and skills to the construction project, including Salvador Gonzáles, Rosario Morales, Alejandra Ayala, and Jorge Garfias.

“We are open to give freely in the same way that God has given freely to us,“ said Michel, who is also the wife of Deacon Juan Michel, who helps head the Cathedral’s Hispanic Ministry. “We are grateful and happy to help and serve the Lord.”

The idea for building a nativity scene on the creche’s 800th anniversary came from both Father Kevin Kennedy, pastor and rector of the Cathedral, and Father Jerald Geronimo, parochial vicar.

“As the Mother Church of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, it was only fitting that we commemorate our patron, St. Francis, and the creche’s 800th anniversary through this incredible endeavor of love for the Christ child,” said Geronimo. “Imitating the words of St. Francis’ first biographer Thomas of Celano, ‘out of San Francisco, is made a new Bethlehem.’”

Fr. Kennedy and Fr. Geronimo invite parishioners from across the Archdiocese to come and see a vision of Bethlehem where they can contemplate the Light of the World at their very own Cathedral.

Francisco Valdez is a reporter for Catholic San Francisco magazine and San Francisco Católico newspaper.