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VIDEO | Another generation helps setup historic Amity Rolfs Nativity

West Bend, Wi – The old guard got a breath of new life, and a hint of vibrant color, this past week as students from Holy Angels School, led by Principal Michelle Spaeth, volunteered to help during the annual setup of the historic Amity Rolfs Nativity.

The life-size nativity, a hallmark of the holiday, is in place on the front lawn of Holy Angels Parish, 138 N. Eighth Avenue, in West Bend, WI.

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Originally brought to the community by brothers Tom and Bob Rolfs, the pieces, handmade in Germany, were originally placed in front of the tower of the Amity building on Main Street. Over the next 40 years the nativity was on the move from the front of the Amity Outlet on Highway 33 to the Downtown West Bend Association in 2007, in 2014 the nativity was set in front of Westbury Bank on S. Main Street, in 2016 it was moved to the garden outside Bits ‘n’ Pieces Floral on Main Street. The nativity found its permanent home in 2017 in front of Holy Angels Parish, a perfect spot.

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The first thing to be assembled was the manger; built old school with heavy cedar boards that have stood the test of time. Some beams are a bit weathered but, the pieces still held enough bite, and the manger went together in under an hour.

 

While the heavy lifting was being completed the students from Holy Angels, added some flair to the outdoorsy blue jean and earthy Carhartt mix with pink shoelaces, brilliant fluffy winter coats, and polka dot skirts.

Using their youth and muscle they emptied a trailer of a traditional Christmas stable, minus the barnsy aroma. Two-by-two unloading shepherds, sheep, ram and a hefty donkey.

 

“The enthusiasm for this project is just contagious,” said Principal Spaeth.

Under the direction of veteran Terry Vrana, the students eagerly assembled the manger. “Good job,” said Vrana as sheep were placed delicately round the feet of baby Jesus  crèche.

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On a side note: Did you know Rev. Pat Heppe offered a blessing of the Amity Rolfs Nativity in 2018 on the lawn in front of Holy Angels. Click HERE for the video. The story is below.

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Dec. 23, 2018 – West Bend, WI – It is the third Sunday of Advent and on Saturday night Rev. Pat Heppe, dressed in purple vestments, took a moment to bless the Rolfs Nativity on Eighth Avenue.

At the end of 4 p.m. Mass Rev. Heppe talked a bit about some national attention being drawn to West Bend and the Rolfs Nativity.

“Last week a reporter from the New York Times was here,” he said. “He interviewed folks at the Downtown West Bend Association and came over here to Holy Angels because he heard about the nativity that was vandalized last year.”

Rev. Heppe went through a brief retelling of how the nativity stood for years in front of the Amity building and in 2017 was in Old Settlers’ Park in downtown West Bend where the baby Jesus figure was stolen.

Parishioner Terry Vrana got a hold of the remnants of the figure and carved a new head for the baby Jesus and reattached the hands.  On Saturday, in front of about two dozen parish members, Rev. Heppe gave a blessing and Vrana placed the baby Jesus in the creche.

“The practice of erecting such mangers was a practice begun by Saint Francis of Assisi as a means to set forth the message of Christmas,” said Heppe. “When we look upon these figures, especially these historic figures, the Christmas Gospel comes alive and we are moved to rejoice in the mysteries in the incarnation of the Son of God.”

As the church bell tolled sharp in the cold, dark, night Rev. Heppe blessed the nativity with holy water.

On a history note: Did you know Holy Angels School entered a float in the 2022 West Bend Christmas Parade and won 1st place in the Youth Non-profit category.

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