May 6, 2022

In Easter season, effort continues to highlight true meaning of Christmas

A light illuminates a Nativity scene on a December night. (Criterion file photo by Mike Krokos)

A light illuminates a Nativity scene on a December night. (Criterion file photo by Mike Krokos)

By John Shaughnessy

In the midst of the Easter season, Jim Liston hopes that parishes and Catholic schools in the Indianapolis area will take time to consider an opportunity to highlight the true meaning of Christmas.

For the second year in a row, Liston is spearheading an effort to make central Indiana the “Outdoor Nativity Scene Capital of the United States.”

A member of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Indianapolis, Liston had the idea as he traveled through the neighborhoods around his Indianapolis home and saw how many people decorated their houses with brilliant light displays and filled their lawns with large, inflated Santas, reindeer and snowmen.

When it suddenly hit him that he rarely saw a Nativity scene, he decided to get one to place in front of his home. Then he thought it would be “a good project for any Catholic school for Advent.”

Setting his plan in motion the fall of 2021, Liston contacted the manufacturer that made his Nativity scene to see if he could negotiate a reduced price for a large order. He also reached out to all the Catholic schools in the Indianapolis deaneries and in nearby Hamilton County to have them ask their families who would be interested in buying a Nativity scene to display in front of their homes.

Ten Catholic schools and parishes participated in that initial effort.

“Nearly 600 outdoor Nativity sets were sold, which made for a truly Christmas background in many yards around the city,” Liston says

Now, he wants to expand the effort, and he’s hoping to have 30 Indianapolis area schools and parishes involved in the project. Yet, to give the manufacturer time to make the sets, Liston has set a May 16 deadline for a school or parish to register for the project.

Last year’s participants from the archdiocese’s Indianapolis deaneries included Our Lady of the Greenwood Parish in Greenwood, and St. Joan of Arc, St. Luke the Evangelist, St. Roch, St. Thomas Aquinas, Cathedral High School and Roncalli High School, all in Indianapolis.

Schools and parishes from the Lafayette Diocese were St. Alphonsus in Zionsville,

St. Elizabeth Seton in Carmel and Guerin Catholic High School in Noblesville.

Each school and parish that participates this year will receive an extra financial impact, just as it did last year. This year, the Nativity scene will sell for $110, with $20 of that money going to the school or parish for a project of their choice.

Even more importantly, Liston says, the project gives a parish or Catholic school “a real opportunity to showcase their mission of Catholic values and to highlight the true meaning of Christmas.”

(For more information, email Liston at or call 317-590-5403.)

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