It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas—a Franciscan Christmas—that is, at St. Francis Seraph Church in Over-the-Rhine. Thanks to Tim Sucher, along with plenty of help that includes his cousins, Jean Brown and Chip Hausfeld, the joy and wonder of the season can be experienced by visitors starting Nov. 25, the day after Thanksgiving.
Inside the church, you’ll find an inspiring collection of Nativity scenes from around the world, the charming Dickens Village and a cheery Santa Claus display. It’s a change of venue for the village and Santas, said Tim, noting that they were previously located in St. Francis Seraph Friary, but moved to the church this year for the sake of guest convenience.
Preparations for “A Franciscan Christmas” actually began before Halloween this year, Tim said, as a group of parishioners and neighbors helped assemble shelves for the display and set up the stable for the Live Nativity in the courtyard. Throughout November, Jean, a faithful holiday helper for a dozen years now, has been assisting with unpacking and setting up decorations, adding what Tim describes as her “artistic flair” to the process. Chip, who handles maintenance at St. Francis Seraph, has also made himself indispensable, contributing his carpentry and electrical skills.
“I love helping with this,” Jean said. “We share ideas and really collaborate on making everything look beautiful.”
Tim’s love for the Christmas season goes back to his childhood and the example of his father, who grew up in a home wrought with alcoholism that worsened over the holidays. “When he got married and had his own family, my father wanted to make sure that Christmas was always a very special time for us,” Tim explained. “He was quite the Christmas buff.”
Jean said her involvement with “A Franciscan Christmas” inspires her throughout the holidays. “It has become such a tradition for our family and really keeps us connected. My son brings his children,” she said. “It helps keep your eye on what Christmas is all about: not the presents, but the presence, and the wonder of our Lord being born.”