Photo: Father Stephen Thorne

Anyone who knows Monsignor Joseph Nicolo would agree that he is one of the many hard working priests of our Archdiocese. He serves as the pastor of Saint Helena Parish in Blue Bell and parochial administrator of Saint Titus Parish in Norristown. However, one may not know that he has been collecting Nativity sets for years and has a lot of them… a LOT of them. He has over 500! What is significant is not that Monsignor has so many images of the birth of Christ, it’s the fact that they are so different and represent every culture and color of the human family.

On the solemnity of the Epiphany of Our Lord, we remember that Jesus was born for all and is manifested as the Savior of all nations. This promise is reflected in the words of Psalm 72, which is sung on that day, “Lord, every nation on earth will adore You.”

These words remind us that God loved the world so much that He sent His Son to save us. Thus, we are challenged to love each other as sisters and brothers regardless of race, color, or culture.

Our bishops have consistently taught that racism is a sin. Racist thoughts and actions have no place in our hearts as Catholics. We all receive the same Holy Eucharist every Sunday that brings us into Communion with Christ and each other.


Most recently in Open Wide Our Hearts, A Pastoral Letter Against Racism, the bishops wrote: “Racism occurs because a person ignores the fundamental truth that, because all humans share a common origin, they are all brothers and sisters, all equally made in the image of God” (p. 4).

We simply cannot adore Jesus and hate our sister or brother because of their race. As we embrace this new year, perhaps all of us should read (or re-read) Open Wide Our Hearts:

As we take down our Christmas trees, lights, and Nativity scenes and pack them away for the rest of the year, may each of us keep the joy and peace of Christmas in our hearts all year and see in each person the image of Christ.


 Father Stephen D. Thorne serves as chairperson of the Archbishop’s Commission on Racial Healing.