Brooklyn Boro

Faith In Brooklyn for Dec. 11

December 11, 2014 By Francesca Norsen Tate, Religion Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The children rehearse the blocking for the Nativity scene. Eagle Photo by Francesca Norsen Tate
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Whole Neighborhood Shares a Role In Assumption Church’s Pageant

Church pageants give children the chance to present their creative take on the meaning of Christmas. What distinguishes the pageant at Assumption Roman Catholic Church in Brooklyn Heights is that children from many of the neighborhood schools create the production together, from script through performance.

For the past 14 years, children from Church of the Assumption, on Cranberry Street, have produced the Annual Christmas Pageant. Parishioner Heather Leykam blocks out time from her hectic schedule as a school principal to direct this production each year. She devotes her time, energy and passion to “letting the kids be who they are,” as she told INBrooklyn.

The Assumption parish hall was teeming recently with children grabbing a quick snack of grapes before trying on costumes, as Leykam guided them during a stage blocking.

“It really started a few years ago, when [former pastor] Father Carrano had gotten the parish hall renovated. They wanted a place for the youth ministry to start in the neighborhood, so the kids had a place to come celebrate who they were. You can’t really sing ‘Silent Night’ in the public schools,” Leykam said.

Since then, the pageant has grown “to encompass all kids in the neighborhood, and kids who go to private school and public school — people who are in the religious ed program,” Leykam said. All told, about 40 children from area schools and churches, including Packer, P.S. 8, M.S. 8 and Plymouth Church, participate.

“And it was a beautiful way to come together as a community. The best part of it really is for the audience — their friends and neighbors — to be there for each other,” she added

One of the joyful aspects of Assumption’s tradition is that children of different ages play together.

“Our high school kids, who graduated from the CCD program, all come back. And they’re the ones who really make it magical,” Leykam said. “So, I have all the kids who graduate, who want to give back to all the little kids. They all come back to support each other. The script is written every year, and we write it with the kids. This year, it’s based on the story of Scrooge — the story of Christmas past, Christmas present, Christmas future. It’s how one little kid is going to find the meaning of Christmas, and about believing in things we can’t see.”

Leykam continued, “That’s what our Scrooge character finds out this year. It ends with a smash-bang production of the Nativity. We do upbeat versions of Christmas carols. We do a balletic version of ‘Silent Night.’ Everyone must come.”

Annmarie, a parent, said, “Heather’s passion for this particular project is relentless. It is a joy to see these children flourish under her direction. Their enthusiasm is infectious. It is obvious that the children get so much enjoyment from what they are doing. The kids range in age from 4 years to teenage. They begin rehearsal in October, putting in four hours a week and more towards the big night.”

Other parents volunteering with the pageant concur.

“The older kids really look out for the younger ones,” said one mother named Tara.

And Richard pointed out that his own children’s participation has brought him back to his Catholic faith.

This year’s pageant will be presented on Friday, Dec. 19 at 7:30 p.m. The Assumption Parish Hall is in the undercroft of the church at 55 Cranberry St., between Hicks and Henry streets.

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Next Choral Chameleon Concert Offers ‘Kaleidoscope Lens’ Spanning Music of Five Centuries

The great mystery and wondrous sacrament of Christmas is said to have first come to the forlorn animals of the manger. Experience this poignant moment with the Choral Chameleon family as members sing about it through the kaleidoscope lens of five different composers, across five centuries.

The 2014 Holiday Concert, titled “Mysterium,” takes place next Sunday at St. Paul’s Church-Carroll Gardens.

There will be a Mulled Wine Reception at 6 p.m. preceding the concert at 7 p.m. General admission is $15; $10 for students with valid school ID. Tickets can be purchased in advance at, or at the door on the night of the performance.

St. Paul’s Church is located at 199 Carroll St.
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Author/Scholar Fred Siegel Will Address ISIS, Iran Crises

Temple Beth Emeth’s Sisterhood Hosts Talk

The Sisterhood of Temple Beth Emeth v’Ohr Progressive Shaari Zedek will host a Saturday morning brunch and lecture next week, featuring noted author/scholar Fred Siegel, who will discuss the topic “Iran or ISIS: Which is the Greater Threat?”

Harry Siegel, a popular Daily News columnist and member of the News’ editorial board, will moderate. The talk will take place at a Sisterhood Brunch on Saturday, Dec. 13.

Fred Siegel, a Ditmas Park resident, is the scholar in residence at St. Francis College, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and the author of several books — most recently, “Revolt Against the Masses.”

Harry Siegel is one of his two sons. His other son, Capt. Jacob Siegel, a combat officer in Iraq and an intelligence officer in Afghanistan, writes for The Daily Beast, for which his articles on the ties between ex-Bathist army officers and ISIS paved the way for our current understanding of the terror army.

The Sisterhood at Temple Beth Emeth regularly hosts writers, journalists and other guests, who speak on current affairs, history and Brooklyn lore. Notable speakers have included Laura Silver, author of the book “Knish: In Search of the Jewish Soul Food;” New York Times investigative reporter William Rashbaum; and former Village Voice scribe Tom Robbins.

The brunch begins at 10 a.m. and the lecture starts at 10:30. Admission is $15 ($10 for temple members). Temple Beth Emeth is at 83 Marlborough Road. For additional information, contact the Temple office at 718-282-1596.

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United Thank Offering provides Special Anniversary grants for young adults

The United Thank Offering of the Episcopal Church has created a special $1,250 grant program for young adults, in honor of the movement’s 125th anniversary.

The grants will provide young adults (ages 21-30) with start-up funds for a new project that focuses on any of the Episcopal Church’s Five Marks of Mission.

Known worldwide as UTO, the United Thank Offering grants are awarded for projects that address human needs and help alleviate poverty, both domestically and internationally.

The Five Marks of Mission are: to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom; to teach, baptize and nurture new believers; to respond to human need by loving service; to seek to transform unjust structures of society – to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation; and to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth.”

One grant will be awarded in each of the nine provinces of the Episcopal Church.

The deadline for young adults to submit applications to their diocesan bishop is Feb. 1, 2015. From there, bishops will select one application per diocese. Applications are due from the diocesan offices on Feb. 15. A video of the start-ups will be showcased at the 78th General Convention in Salt Lake City, UT in June/July 2015.

Application and additional information are available via

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Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn Launches Campaign Inviting People Back to Mass

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn has launched an advertising campaign encouraging people to return to Mass during the Advent and Christmas seasons. Advent is a liturgical season that prepares for Christmas and for the Kingdom of God.

The campaign showcases different messages inviting people of Brooklyn and Queens to join their closest church.

“By coming among us as a man, God expresses His solidarity with humanity. Christmas is that time of year when we celebrate that great generosity of God by recommitting ourselves to one another,” said the Most Rev. Nicholas DiMarzio, bishop of Brooklyn. “These creative ads are our response to Pope Francis’ call for a Church of mercy and hope, ‘where everyone is welcomed, loved and forgiven.’”

The campaign includes a series of print ads and 30-second radio messages focusing on its main theme, “Join us this Christmas.” The posters will be advertised in multiple languages to meet the needs of each neighborhood.

“New York is an exciting place to live. Yet, for some, it can also be lonely. We launched this campaign to remind our neighbors that they are not alone — that we are family,” said Monsignor Kieran Harrington, vicar for communications for the Diocese of Brooklyn.

The Diocese of Brooklyn, which also encompasses the borough of Queens, serves more than 1.4 million Catholics. Due to its multicultural and diverse populations, Masses are regularly held in 33 different languages across the diocese, throughout 187 parishes within 213 churches.


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