On the cold morning of Dec. 5, Father Matthew Kaderabek, chaplain of the Lower School at Pinecrest Academy, got up early, got into his car and made the long trip into Atlanta to bless the annual nativity scene at the Georgia State Capitol.
“I had never been to the State Capitol before. And I wasn’t sure how many people were going to be there, but there must have been 50 people,” Kaderabek said with a laugh.
“We were so honored to have the father go down and be invited to do this,” said Vivian Heard, manager of communications at Pinecrest Academy.
This is the fourth year that the Georgia Nativity Scene Committee has raised its nativity scene in the State Capitol, and over the years the committee has invited several important members of the Catholic Church to be a part of the celebration, including Archbishop Wilton Gregory and Bishop Luis Zarama.
This year’s celebration featured a prayer and blessing from Kaderabek, Christmas songs from the Children’s Choir from St. John Bosco Academy, bluegrass-style singing from Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, and religious testimony from Georgia State Sen. Michael Williams.
According to Kaderabek, this celebration was his first time giving a religious service in a public building.
“It made me a little nervous,” Kaderabek said. “But the crowd seemed very happy and receptive.”
Kaderabek also expressed how honored he was to be included in what he considers to be an important symbol of the season.
“Let’s remember the reason for the season,” Kaderabek said.
“It’s so easy to get caught up in Christmas parties and Christmas shopping... This season is about preparing our hearts for Jesus and making time for charity and people in need.”
The nativity scene is the brainchild of a Pinecrest Academy alumni parent Ann Witt and can be viewed in the rotunda of the Capitol this week.
Witt, who has worked with Pinecrest Academy students in the past to put up the nativity, says that the scene is meant to celebrate the season and remind people who see it of their religious liberties.