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Parish event encourages families to celebrate Advent at home

Harrison George turned paper, string and beads into something special.

The 14-year-old member of Our Lady of Lourdes-St. Adalbert Parish in Omaha joined about 60 other young people and their families in making ornaments for the needy at a Nov. 19 Advent gathering at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Omaha.

It was the first time George attended the event for religious education students and fifth-through- seventh-grade youth group members of the parish.

"I thought it was really cool, and I had a lot of fun," said George, a home-school student.

Elaine Heaston, director of religious education at the parish, said the event, now in its fifth year, is designed to remind families that Christmas is more than Santa and gifts, and to give them ideas on how to celebrate the Advent season at home.

Led by Deacon Frank Hilt, the two-hour event started with a family session about the meaning of the season of Advent. It continued with confessions, and a craft that included making nearly 200 ornaments for the parish’s Jesse Tree. The ornaments are combined with the names of the needy, and parishioners are invited to purchase gifts for people named on the ornaments. The people who receive the gifts also keep the ornaments.

"By bringing everyone together, we can talk to mom and dad and give them ideas on things to do with their kids during Advent," Heaston said. "It’s a way to educate both the child and the parent and also to give the parents some encouragement and support in doing things in the home that are faith-based."

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