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Spirit of Santa is another gift God provides

"Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus." Those were the words of a famous New York Sun editorial written more than 115 years ago by veteran newsman Francis Church to answer concerns 8-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon expressed in a letter to the newspaper.

It's not likely there's another editorial that's been reprinted or quoted so often. And with good reason. Church addressed Virginia's concerns and - more important - gave her and thousands, even millions, of other children hope for the future, and the editorial still is fulfilling that role today.

A work of that magnitude certainly doesn't need my endorsement, but while attending a recent Sunday meeting at my parish, I was reminded of the editorial when I encountered Santa Claus. No, I didn't meet a heavy set older gentleman with white hair and beard in a red suit at St. James.

But as I walked into our parish center that day, I could see Santa had been at work. Christmas Angel organizers - they might also be called Santa's helpers - had piles of presents covering the floor from one end of the parish center to the other, from one corner to the opposite, and they were just starting. Parishioners delivered more presents throughout the day.

Of course, St. James isn't the only parish doing a Christmas Angels project. Many other parishes across the archdiocese have similar programs. And that type of Christmas spirit goes beyond parish walls and beyond the Catholic Church.

Other denominations organize gift-giving efforts, as do schools, businesses, service clubs and more. And it's all an obvious sign of Santa at work.

At least that will be the case for those receiving the gifts. They won't know the who or the how ... or perhaps even understand the why of the gifts. They'll just know that one day around Christmas, packages will be delivered to their homes - a new coat and a toolbox for Dad; some boots, new slacks and a blender for Mom; toys, games, a bike and sled for the kids.

They'll be excited. They'll be happy. They'll be very grateful. And they'll know Santa's been at work.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. His spirit of giving is another gift God has shared with all of us.



PLENTY OF COLOR

Colors of Christmas entries again flooded the Catholic Voice office in recent weeks, creating piles of artwork and plenty of sorting and organizing for staff members. But it's work we enjoy.

As do the judges who spend about a half day at the Catholic Voice reviewing entries and making decisions. We're grateful to the judges - CaSandra Johnson, Daniel J. Gross Catholic High School in Bellevue; Mary Jo Kampschneider, Guardian Angels Central Catholic School in West Point; and Theresa Smith, St. James/Seton School in Omaha - for their time and expertise. Judging the contest is a big, big job ... and a sometimes difficult task.

Local businesses helping make the contest possible also deserve another mention. Catholic Mutual was the underwriter for this year's event. And four local stores - Cosgrave Company, Gloria Deo, Divine Truth Christian Store and Adoremus Books - joined in as participating sponsors, assisting with the costs of the contest and providing a total of $500 in gift cards as prizes.

In addition to the overall winner's entry on Page 1, you'll find the work of all the prize winners on Pages 13-15.



REAL LIGHT SHINES

Postscript to my Dec. 6 column about our Christmas tree lights. The faulty string of lights still isn't working ... but that's OK. Christ provides the real light of Christmas ... and that light doesn't rely on electricity or bulbs or fuses ... just open hearts.

May your Christmas time be filled with that light.



Deacon Randy Grosse is editor and general manager of the Catholic Voice. Contact him at ragrosse@archomaha.org.

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