No mall? No problem! Virtual Santa visits bring the jolliness to your home

Rocio Madera

This year, many of our Christmas plans have dramatically changed, including those of our dear friend from the North Pole, Santa Claus. 

Susen Mesco, parishioner at Immaculate Conception Parish in Lafayette and owner of American Events and Promotions, has spent over 36 years bringing a magic touch to the holiday season with her pool talented performers who portray Santa Claus. However, this year’s pandemic has changed the tradition, limiting Santa visits and canceling most of her events. Yet, there is one thing that hasn’t changed: her commitment to bringing joy to the little ones.  

With the aim of doing her part to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while bringing joy, magic and Christmas traditions to homes across the country, Mesco and her team came up with the idea of ​​creating virtual Santa visits. 

“The Claus Family at American Events and Santa Visits USA have been working with technology for seven months to transfer the live stage to the small screen presentation with songs, stories, interactive family activities, puppets, magic, props, and special guest stars who pop in,” Mesco said.  

Mesco and her team, which includes 150 of the top holiday performers in the country, worked for months to create children activities, including Christian readings, to help fill children with excitement the same way they do when they visit Santa at the mall.  

“Children are very resilient! They have easily adapted to this new technology of Zoom wonderfully,” she said. “Standing in line at the mall isn’t a lot of fun if you’re five years old. With virtual Santa visits, there is no endless waiting in line exposed to germs. Children will spend 10-15 dedicated virtual personal minutes with Santa instead of 90 seconds at the mall.” 

Her virtual parties include interactive children activities for up to 90 families at once that range from karaoke to storytelling among others. Families can also request personalized Santa messages and visits.  

“We have virtual visits and personalized messages from Santa, Mesco explained. “Santa’s secret Elves provide us with details about the children. Santa spends 10-15 minutes with each family singing, telling stories and discussing events from the year as well as gentle reminders to pick up toys and brush teeth or eat more vegetables.”  

This year, Mesco wants to share the magic of Christmas with Catholic families and make sure that no one is left out by offering a FREE program that includes Christian stories, religious songs and some reading of the bible. Visit SantaVisitsUSA.com and use the code DENCATHOLIC for access to this program. 

“All of our Santa family is heartbroken that we cannot be with the children, but Santa needs to stay healthy at the North Pole so he can make his rounds on Christmas Eve,” Mesco concluded. “We can all be responsible. Virtual is the answer.” 

This program is open from Nov. 1st until January 31st. For more information, visit SantaVisitsUSA.com
 

COMING UP: ‘I have seen the Lord’: St. Vincent de Paul’s new adoration chapel honors St. Mary Magdelene’s witness

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“I have seen the Lord.” (John 20:18). 

One couple from St. Vincent de Paul parish took these words to heart with urgency last year during the pandemic and decided to build a Eucharistic Adoration chapel for their fellow faithful to be in the Lord’s presence themselves. 

Mike and Shari Sullivan donated design and construction of the new Eucharistic Adoration Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene adjacent to their parish church to make a space for prayer and adoration that they felt needed to be reinstated, especially during the difficult days of COVID-19. 

The chapel was completed this spring and dedicated during Divine Mercy weekend with a special blessing from Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila. 

“It was invigorating to have the archbishop bless the chapel,” Mike said. “The church has been buzzing.” 

Mike has been a Catholic and a member of St. Vincent de Paul since his baptism, which he jokes was around the time the cornerstone was placed in 1951. The Sullivans’ five children all attended the attached school and had their sacraments completed at St. Vincent de Paul too. 

Archbishop Samuel Aquila dedicated the St. Mary Magdalene adoration chapel with a prayer and blessing at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church on April 9, 2021, in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Daniel Petty/Denver Catholic)

The 26-by 40-foot chapel is a gift to fellow parishioners of a church that has meant so much to their family for decades, and to all who want to participate in prayer and adoration. 

The architect and contractor are both Catholic, which helped in the design of Catholic structure and the construction crew broke ground in mid-December. The Sullivans wanted to reclaim any Catholic artifacts or structural pieces they could for the new chapel. Some of the most striking features of the chapel are the six stained glass windows Mike was able to secure from a demolished church in New York. 

The windows were created by Franz Xaver Zettler who was among a handful of artists known for the Munich style of stained glass from the 19th century.  The Munich style is accomplished by painting detailed pictures on large pieces of glass unlike other stained-glass methods, which use smaller pieces of colored glass to make an image. 

The two primary stained-glass windows depict St. Augustine and St. Mary Magdalene, the chapel’s namesake, and they frame either side of the altar which holds the tabernacle and monstrance — both reused from St.  Vincent De Paul church.  

The Sullivans wanted to design a cloistered feel for the space and included the traditional grill and archway that opens into the pews and kneelers with woodwork from St. Meinrad Archabbey in southern Indiana. 

The chapel was generously donated by Mike and Shari Sullivan. The stained glass windows, which depict St. Augustine and St. Mary Magdalene, were created by Franz Xaver Zettler, who was among a handful of artists known for the Munich style of stained glass from the 19th century. (Photo by Daniel Petty/Denver Catholic)

Shari is a convert to Catholicism and didn’t grow up with the practice of Eucharistic adoration, but St. Vincent de Paul pastor Father John Hilton told her to watch how adoration will transform the parish. She said she knows it will, because of what regular Eucharistic adoration has done for her personally. 

The Sullivans are excited that the teachers at St. Vincent de Paul school plan to bring their classes to the warm and inviting chapel to learn about the practice of adoration and reflect on the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. 

The words of St. Mary Magdalene “I have seen the Lord,” have become the motto of the chapel, Mike said, and they are emblazoned on a brass plaque to remind those who enter the holy space of Christ’s presence and the personal transformation offered to those inside.

The St. Vincent de Paul  Church and The Eucharistic Chapel of St. Mary Magdalene is located at 2375 E. Arizona Ave. Denver 80210 on the corner of Arizona and Josephine Street. The chapel is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. Visit https://saintvincents.org/adorationchapel1 for more information about the chapel and to look for updates on expanded hours as they occur.