PROSPECT HEIGHTS — The Tablet’s Bright Christmas campaign has been helping those in need for over half a century, and, for Father Guy Sbordone, the annual burst of momentum for generosity has become a much-anticipated family event.
This story begins with Father Sbordone’s parents, Hugo and Sophia, who celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2002.
“I’m the third oldest of eight children,” said Father Sbordone, “and through marriage the number of family members has grown–with grandchildren, nieces and nephews. So, while we used to buy presents for everybody and open them on Christmas morning, the family decided to take the money we would spend on presents and give it to Bright Christmas.”
Honoring his parents’ anniversary with Bright Christmas donations began a new tradition in the Sbordone family.
“Every year, we gather around the Thanksgiving table, and we decide as a family what milestone we want to celebrate. The money is collected and given to me, and I send it in for Bright Christmas,” Father Sbordone explained.
Subsequent milestones have included contributions in loving memory of Father Sbordone’s father, who passed away five years ago. This year’s donation will be in anticipation of the marriage of Father Sbordone’s niece, Alexa Sbordone, in April 2022.
Over the past 10 years, the Bright Christmas campaign has received and distributed more than $1 million. This has been used to purchase Christmas presents, food, materials that teach the faith, and other necessities.
Last year, The Tablet received in excess of $106,000 — all headed for diocesan and parish-based groups, as well as religious education programs, that requested resources to pass along to others. During the current Christmas season, the hope is to raise $115,000, thanks to generous supporters like the Sbordone family.
Father Sbordone has been part of the fabric of the Diocese of Brooklyn since his ordination to the priesthood in 1983. His ministry at parishes began with seven years at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Astoria, Queens; followed by Our Lady of Hope in Middle Village, Queens, for nine years. Brooklyn beckoned, leading to St. Frances Cabrini in Dyker Heights for two and a half years and St. Dominic in Bensonhurst for six years. He returned to St. Frances Cabrini, where he served an additional 12 years before moving this June to his current parish, Our Lady of Grace in Gravesend.
While Father Sbordone collects the money for the fund, he credits his sister Lydia for spearheading the yearly discussion of the family milestone to recognize. He acknowledged that younger nieces and nephews, who still receive presents under the Christmas tree, are not asked to donate.
“But as they get older, they will be contributing to Bright Christmas so the next generation will be giving as well,” he said. “It’s a legacy that we hope will continue down through the generations.”
So, for Father Sbordone, Christmas is a time for his family to remember and reflect upon significant blessings in their journeys. Their decisions, focused on the Holy Family and the birth of our savior, bring a truly Bright Christmas to those less fortunate neighbors who can still appreciate the ultimate family feast. Mindfulness of life’s “movable” feasts also generates enduring memories for the generous givers.
How to help
If you’d like to donate, visit thetablet.org and on the home page click on Bright Christmas or write a check to “The Tablet’s Bright Christmas” and mail it to:
Bright Christmas, LB# 2118
PO BOX 95000
Philadelphia, PA 19195-0001
Editor’s note: Parishes and diocesan agencies may make requests for funds by writing about their needs to email@example.com