Visit Nativity Scene highlights different cultures

November 29, 2018

Imagine having the ability to explore different cultures without leaving the comfort of your home community.

That is the opportunity St. Benedict Center has been offering since 1997 through its annual Visit Nativity Scenes exhibits. The event will be held from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. through Dec. 16 and from Jan. 2 to 10 inside The Benedict Center, 1126 Road I.

The exhibition will take place alongside a craft show so attendees will also be given the chance to conduct their Christmas shopping from 2-6:30 p.m. on weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends. However, the craft show will only take place through Dec. 9.

Both events are being held free of charge.

A Christmas Pageant is traditionally held with the show and exhibition, but due scheduling conflicts, there won’t be one this year.

“We will try again next year,” said The Rev. Thomas Leitner, noting the events are a good way of encouraging people to visit the monastery and center.

The Rev. Volker Futter is an avid collector of nativities from around the world. In addition to donations, the center currently houses roughly 300 sets from countries in Africa, Asian, Europe, North and South America.

From the entrance to the chapel to the office spaces, one can see historical artwork in every corner of the building.

Futter, who still actively collects nativities, said it’s a good way of supporting native artists by purchasing their artwork for display and sales.

Because organizers put together the exhibit according to different themes each year, Leitner said there’s always something new to see.

“I look at the display every year,” he said. “And every year, somehow something struck me anew.”

As organizers thought about a theme for this year, Leitner suggested the idea of “Holy families as refugees” as a possible option.

Leitner and Futter have spent time overseas, living in countries like Tanzania, South Africa and Kenya. During these times, Leitner said they felt connected to the different cultures and wanted to share that experience in Schuyler.

As attendees visit the different booths during the exhibition, Leitner said they might leave with a better understanding of how Christianity exists in different parts of the world.

“… To appreciate beauty people produce in their art,” Leitner said. “And also to realize that Jesus Christ, who wasn’t a white man, represents many cultures that exist around the world and Christianity incarnates itself in all these many cultures in its own unique way.”

Futter said the collections are a good way of showcasing his goal of connecting people to various cultures and missionaries worldwide.

Those wanting to learn more about the events are encouraged to call the center at 402-352-8819 or visit www.StBenedictCenter.com.

“The nativities scene is an outflow of what we do in supporting missionaries all over the world,” Futter said.

Natasya Ong is a reporter for the Schuyler Sun. Reach her via email at natasya.ong@lee.net.

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