Guest Columnists

The Crèche in the Right Place at the Right Time


by Msgr. Jonas C. Achacoso, JCD

“Come on, let’s do it!” This is how my friend, Alexander Lateo, a crèche artist, has us many volunteers be involved in his project. Alex is one of those who received ten talents and passionately invested them in being a successful designer of crèches, a cartoonist, musician, and a long list of whatnot. The parish of Corpus Christi, Woodside, is so grateful for his passion and artistry, which are simply impressive. The parish, most importantly, is so grateful for this generous donation.

“When God wills something to happen, everything will fall into place perfectly, in the right place at the right time.”

When God wills something to happen, everything will fall into place perfectly, in the right place at the right time. The project sprung from our catch-up conversation back in October. Alex had some materials from a Nativity scene from a previous project at Our Lady of Peace in Manhattan, which closed in 2014.

Since then, these materials were in storage at Most Precious Blood in Astoria, where Alex is volunteering and in charge of setting up their crèche. The parish was so generous for this accommodation but could not use the materials because they have their own nativity setup. These are artistic treasures hidden in the dark but needing the right place to be displayed. I bet Corpus Christi Church is that right place at the right time.

The crèche looks spectacular and splendid. Parishioners who have had the chance to behold this masterpiece find it so timely a gift. One parishioner was so grateful that during the pandemic’s gloom and monotony, she has something good that can boost sagging morale. Another parishioner, who is so funny, looking at the setup that looks so real, said, “Is this property handicapped accessible? I want to move in, especially if they have maid service!”

At that time, when the structure was all there was, another replied, “Yes, renters are welcome, but the garage is reserved for special guests.” Those special guests are Jesus, Mary, and Joseph of the Holy Family. The set is now the home for the Fontaninis, which have been perennial in our parish crèche since the time of Msgr. Richard Dunn. 

The crèche is inspired by the ambiance of a small and quaint Mediterranean town. Indeed, you would feel like you are really in such a town of winding cobblestone streets, courtyard water fountains, stone brick houses, etc. Alex, who is originally from Malta, has a special love for these features. He grew up in such an environment before coming to New York. To set up the Nativity display, he was ably assisted by Larry Debono, Father Mintu Rozario, Tito and Susana Chia, Orinda Infante, Jacobo Valdivia, Giovanny Muñoz, and Joseph Fortunat.

On how this project has been turning out, our parish is just fascinated and elated. We want to share this gift with everyone. Come and contemplate the great mystery of the Nativity in Corpus Christi Church in Woodside, where we have a crèche in the right place at the right time.

Msgr. Achacoso, JCD, is Adjutant Judicial Vicar at The Tribunal of the Diocese of Brooklyn, liaison to the Ecclesial Movements, and Administrator of the Corpus Christi Church, Woodside.

One thought on “The Crèche in the Right Place at the Right Time

  1. This is a magnificent work of art where the scenery and accessories allow the figures to tell the story of the Nativity. When you view the food and drink, you are seeing “Joseph’s story.” He is providing for the needs of Mary. Stable accessories like the rope and ladder tell of an active landlord.

    You don’t get any stories from the glittery garlands and lighted Christmas trees that too many churches use to turn their nativity figures into “Christmas decorations.” The architecture of Alexander Lateo’s structures takes this far away from the tacky traditional stables seen in many churches; stables that are inspired by what was sold in Woolworth’s Five & Dime stores in 1910.

    Leaders of churches and cathedrals need to look at Alexander Lateo’s work of art and then call him in for consultation, advice, and direction.