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Navidad and Sanctuary Surprises

By Mireille Rita Grovier, photos by Jay Grovier and Kathy Gregg


Paty, Lee and Devils

At the close of the Sunday Service on December 14, the third Sunday of Advent, when Bishop William Gregg of St. Paul’s Church asked the congregation to remain standing until the clergy and the children had exited the church, nothing seemed unusual. After all, it was the annual Pastorela for Centro Infantil San Pablo. To the amazement of the congregation, however, the appearance of the children this year was anything but ordinary. Led by the school’s director, Patricia Palacios Cortez, diminutive replicas of Mary and Joseph were the first to enter the sanctuary—riding on a live donkey. They were followed by the teachers and children of the individual classes. Among these was a chorus of three-year-old angels and three five-year-old devils. The remainder of the four- and five-year-old students were dressed as shepherds and shepherdesses.

On the parish lawn this incomparable pageant continued with a pastoral scene—a replica of a manger and mock sheep. In spite of demonic attempts to prevent their arrival, enacted by a diabolically attired director and the three five-year-olds, Mary and Joseph arrived on the donkey to occupy their places. Not relinquishing their unsuccessful attempt to prevent the Holy Event from becoming a reality, the devilish director and an adult supporter of the school danced a frightful but delightful two-step. Each three, four, and five-year-old classes and their teachers, all in costume, respectively danced and sang their way into the hearts of a hand-clapping and foot-tapping congregation.  On two stick horses and an elephant, the Three Kings arrived to present their gifts to the newborn king. The appearance of the Three Kings, also adult supporters of the school, is an annual contribution to the Pastorela. The event ended with the directora, students, and teachers dancing together in a grand finale and wishing the enthralled audience “Feliz Navidad!”

Residents of San Miguel who are aware of the school and its activities look forward to the diverse performances that characterize the school’s activities. Because of the creative genius of director Patricia Palacios Cortez and her capable staff, each program is carefully crafted, presenting the children fully engaged in the story, their songs, and their dances, to the great delight of all. Those of you who have not yet had the pleasure of this experience are urged to be in contact with the school and join in the joy!

CISP provides early education for underprivileged children. Founded by St. Paul’s Anglican Church 13 years ago, over 240 five-year-olds have successfully completed our program. Sponsorships for children, donations, and additional Advisory Committee Members are always welcome. For additional information, go to or email us at


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