Editor Emeritus - Ed Wilkinson

Gifts of Light Help Brighten Our Christmas

The weather outside was frightful. The wind-swept snow and chilly temperatures were hardly delightful. But that didn’t stop the show from going on at St. Athanasius Church in Bensonhurst and St. Bernard’s Church in Mill Basin.

Actor-singer Robert Davi (“The Goonies,” “License to Kill,” “Die Hard”) braved the elements to perform two concerts, one at each parish, as the parish communities lit up their Christmas crèches and the trees that surround the buildings. The churches participate in a program known as “A Celebration of Light,” underwritten ironically by Maimonides Medical Center, an institution operated in the Jewish tradition.

For years, Maimonides CEO Pam Brier has insisted on leading the way to light up the neighborhoods at Christmas so that the hospital can better share the holy traditions of all who live in the areas it serves.

At St. A’s, Msgr. David Cassato, pastor, celebrated the regular 5:30 p.m. Saturday evening Mass. Before and after Mass, the congregation was treated to Christmas carols sung by the parish choir. They were joined by the local Boy Scouts carrying the Peace Light that had been transported from Bethlehem, as the procession moved from inside to outside the church.

A dramatic light show played on the church exterior. The words “Love” and “Peace” illuminated the façade. A horse-drawn sled brought Santa Claus up Bay Parkway. This all was a prelude to lighting up the manger scene, at 61st Street. and Bay Parkway, depicting the birth of Christ.

This was the church’s gift to the neighborhood to brighten the darkest time of the year. As a special treat, the proceedings were taped by NET-TV, our diocesan cable network for showing on Christmas Eve (check the listing in this week’s pullout guide).

Christmas gifts continue to pay big dividends. As we returned to the office after a challenging weekend, we learned that The Tablet’s Bright Christmas Campaign has surpassed $100,000. We could fulfill the requests that continue to arrive on our desk.

Last year, Bright Christmas collected more than $140,000 as a tribute to our readers’ generosity to the victims of Hurricane Sandy. This year, the need continues in some of the poorest neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Queens. Upon request, we are filling requests from pastors, religious and lay leaders for Bright Christmas assistance. (We cannot accept individual cases, only parish and church-related agencies.)

If you haven’t sent your donation yet, simply write out a check to Bright Christmas and send it to The Tablet’s Bright Christmas at 1712 Tenth Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11215. This is our last formal solicitation for this year’s drive. We are grateful to all who have already contributed and say thank you in advance to those who still will contribute.

Late arriving donations will be used to fund Three Kings parties in Spanish-speaking parishes that celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany in their traditional ways.