Handmade Nativity scene helps usher in Christmas at Marysville parish

  • Written by Nathan Whalen
  • Published in Local
Spotlights illuminate each life-size Nativity figurine at St. Mary Parish in Marysville. Photo: Courtesy Savanna Buczkowski Spotlights illuminate each life-size Nativity figurine at St. Mary Parish in Marysville. Photo: Courtesy Savanna Buczkowski

MARYSVILLE – During Advent this year and last, five families — and their pastor — have turned a huge pile of plywood and white paint into life-size silhouettes for a Nativity scene at their parish.

“It was quite a family building activity,” said Savanna Buczkowski, a mother of six whose family helped with the project.

The families have a total of 20 children, ages 5 months to 13 years old, Buczkowski said. Parents and the older children took part in the construction, along with Father Mactutis. Before becoming a priest, he was a mechanical engineer and said he still enjoys building things.

Last year, Father Peter Mactutis, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Marysville, suggested creating a Nativity scene. The parishioner families, who have been meeting monthly for several years, all have workshops. So they decided to buy plywood and build the Nativity scene, at a cost of about $500, Buczkowski said.


Father Peter Mactutis, left, and Aaron Buczkowski work on a plywood figure for the Nativity scene at their parish, St. Mary in Marysville. Photo: Courtesy Savanna Buczkowski

In 2019, the families created a scene with Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus, along with three wise men, a shepherd, a sheep, a donkey and an ox. This year, they added an angel, a lamb and a camel, Buczkowski said.

All the plywood figures are painted white, and at night are illuminated with spotlights so they can be seen from two blocks away. St. Mary’s is near a busy intersection in Marysville, and “the amount of people evangelized when they drive by was a thought in the process,” Buczkowski said.

She also hopes the St. Mary’s Nativity scene will inspire other parishes to create their own manger scenes.

The Nativity scene with its additional silhouettes was unveiled December 19, near the end of Advent. That timing meshes with the readings and Mass prayers that focus on remembering with great joy the coming of Jesus as a child, Father Mactutis explained in an email.

Although the three wise men are on display now, they won’t near the manger until Epiphany, Buczkowski said.