Crèches light up the scene at Catholic Christmas festival

For Christmas this year, Leo Keegan set out to create a nativity spectacle at the Cathedral of Christ the Light, the seat of the Catholic Diocese of Oakland. The result was the Starlight Festival: seventeen unique displays of the crèche, or nativity scene, each an interpretation of the biblical story of Jesus’ birth. From traditional ceramic sculptures to a pop-up style paperboard scene, the displays came from churches throughout the diocese.

“I like the way we connected it to the scripture,” said Yolanda Carter, a parishioner at Saint Columba Church in Oakland, of her parish’s creation. The Saint Columba crèche featured small sculptures of all the key figures—Mary, Joseph, the three wise men, shepherds, and of course baby Jesus. A sign detailed the scripture verses that inspired the wooden frame of the stable, the miniature olive trees, and various rocks that formed the scene’s landscape.

Four local businesses also created crèches, which were on display in four of the cathedral’s chapels. Oakland’s J. Miller Flowers and Gifts donated a nativity scene surrounded by white flowers for display in the Chapel of the Suffering Christ.

Keegan chaired the festival, in which all parishes in the diocese had the chance to submit a crèche. Festival committee member Denise Kogler said the display was meant to embody the cathedral’s mission to “shine a light.” Gesturing to the crèches around her, Kogler said, “Our cathedral’s all about light.”

The Starlight Festival crèches are no longer available for public viewing, but Christmas décor will adorn the cathedral for mass throughout the holiday season. The Cathedral of Christ the Light is located on the edge of Lake Merritt at 2121 Harrison St. in Oakland.

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