FAIRFIELD— Parents and friends of Saint Catherine Academy were treated to a spirited and joyful Christmas pageant this morning in the school auditorium in Fairfield.
Two hundred turned out for the annual “The Message of an Angel,” pageant performed by academy students who are impacted with autism, intellectual and developmental disabilities.
“What we witnessed today is the finest homily about Christmas I’ve ever seen,” said Bishop Frank Caggiano, who congratulated the students for their singing and reverent portrayal of the Nativity.
“This is the season when many of us search for the perfect gift. Let us not forget that the gift of Christmas is the only one that really matters, and the students have given us all a beautiful gift today.”
St. Catherine student Anna Stowe narrated the pageant while Jennifer Molina portrayed Mary and Jaheim Hamlette played the role of Joseph.
This year’s production featured a live Baby Jesus, Ella Fitzgerald, who won the heart of the audience. New to the production this year was also a memorable sequence in which the narrator called each of the actors by name and asked, “What is your gift this Christmas for Jesus?”
One by one the young men and women came forward and offered the gifts of themselves: “Joy, singing, helping, smiling, loving…”
“Enthusiasm,” said one young man who danced for joy on his way back to his place in the choir.
After the 14-member cast processed up a dramatic ramp in the center of the hall, the production began with “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”
The audience enjoyed concert favorites including “Angels We Have Heard on High,” “Let There be Peace on Earth,” and “Joy to the World,” and joined the students in singing “Silent Night.” Heavy rain drummed the roof in between songs.
The cast finished the production with the audience favorite, “Feliz Navidad.”
Other cast members included Jennifer Molina, Jack Crowell, Luke Norris, Philip Palilla, Ronald Scott, Briana Beliard, Tanisha Delgado, Lizabeth Gonzalez, Nyah Holmes, Lindsy Paul, Fabricio Almeida, Frank Maldonado, Herbierto Moya, and Donte Dedrick.
The production was written by Sister Eileen Boffa, RSM, and directed by Sister Cheryl Driscoll, RSM.
Fairfield University Quick Center provided the lighting, and St. Catherine’s also received support from the St. Patrick’s Council of the Knights of Columbus, volunteers from the Order of Malta, and its Board of Directors.
The bishop praised St. Catherine Center executive director Helen Burland for her leadership. “Your leadership has allowed St. Catherine to prosper and grow.”
In her introduction to the event, Burland said the pageant is a “special occasion for the academy each year and an opportunity to showcase the talent of our students.”
She also asked all those in attendance to consider this question, “What is your gift to Jesus this year?”
“Each one of us is an innkeeper. You have to decide if there is room for Jesus,” she said.
Established in 1999 as a full-time day school for special needs students who benefit from a functional academic, social and life skills curriculum in addition to developing academic skills, St. Catherine Academy educates students ages 5-21 who are motivated to learn but unable to thrive in an inclusive setting.
St. Catherine Academy is located at 760 Tahmore Dr., Fairfield (on the grounds of Holy Cross Parish). For info call (203) 540-5381. Online at: www.stcatherineacademy.org