Pittsburgh Creche is blessed in Downtown service – TribLIVE

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The Pittsburgh Creche has been blessed.
At noon on Friday, Christian Leaders Fellowship, an ecumenical group of local bishops and denominational leaders, held a prayer service.
It was the annual dedication of the nativity located in front of U.S. Steel Tower on Grant Street, Downtown.
In its 23rd year, it will be on display through Jan. 7.
“Our hope is that tens of thousands of people will return to visit the creche this season, and let this larger-than-life symbol emphasize the true spirit and meaning of Christmas in the greater Pittsburgh area,” said Msgr. Ronald Lengwin, a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, in a statement.
The creche is the only authorized replica of the nativity scene that St. John Paul II commissioned for the Vatican. It is an ecumenical effort by Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Christians to preserve the true meaning of Christmas, standing as “a reminder of God’s great love for all his creation,” according to Christian Leaders Fellowship.
Erica Gamerro, director of the Diocesan Department for Liturgy and Worship and Episcopal master of ceremonies for the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, was the emcee.
Participants were the Rev. Reverend Michael Wurschmidt, Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh; Archbishop William Skurla, Byzantine Catholic Archeparchy of Pittsburgh; Bishop David A. Zubik, Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh; Very Rev. Aidan Smith, Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh; Rev. (Bishop) Kurt F. Kusserow, Southwestern Pennsylvania Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Metropolitan Savas (Zembillas), Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Pittsburgh; Pastor Sheldon Sorge, Pittsburgh Presbytery; Major Philip Lloyd, Salvation Army of Western Pennsylvania; Rev. Linda Miller-Pretz, United Church of Christ Penn West Conference; and Rev. Renee Mikell, United Methodist Conference of Western Pennsylvania.
“It is so good for us to be here … to stand together in the middle of our city around an image of hope, mercy and peace,” said Zubik. “In the midst of holiday sights and sounds, we want to recall that the heart of this season is the coming into the world of God’s own son. Our city needs this witness to peace and goodwill.”
John Edkins of Upper St. Clair, who owns J.E. Scenic, a set rental and set construction facility, collaborated with Pittsburgh architect Lou Astorino to build the creche. Some pieces were made in Rome. The people and animals each weigh about 10 pounds.
They are all anchored to the floor. Clothing for the figures was designed and sewn and is maintained by the Sisters of the Holy Family of Nazareth and Sisters of the Holy Spirit. A group of volunteers joined the sisters in preparing the clothing and dressing the figures last week.
Last year the blessing was virtual because of the pandemic.
At this year’s event, students from Blessed Trinity Academy in Glenshaw performed.
The leaders began by singing “O Come All Ye Faithful.” Each addressed the crowd of more than 100 people before sprinkling holy water on the creche.
Attending for a 10th year, Zembillas of the Greek Orthodox church said he loves the tradition. It’s an opportunity to gather together with others in unity and in faith, and the creche serves as a visual reminder.
“It arouses curiosity and can evoke wonder,” Zembillas said. “We can pause and reflect upon the strength of our faith here.”
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact JoAnne at 724-853-5062, [email protected] or via Twitter .
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