Crib Ceremony keeps Christmas traditions alive at SHU

Seton Hill Class of 2016 hosted the 38th Annual Crib Ceremony featuring its own spin on the music and verses surrounding Christ’s birth. Approximately 65 members of the Seton Hill University (SHU) freshman class, staff and faculty attended the traditional ceremony that took place outside in the Greensburg Room courtyard Tuesday.

“It’s kind of hard to make changes because it’s the Christmas story, but we used several different translations and switched the order some too. I think what makes our ceremony unique is the way we are doing the music,” said Mary Ecker, vice president of the Class of 2016.

The musical selections were done with guitar, a flute and trumpet in certain songs. Soft guitar music continued through the whole ceremony.

“I was moved by the carols that were sung. Something about the cold helped. Bethlehem would have been cold, and it made me feel a new significance in the words,” said Father Jerry O’Shea, sacramental minister at SHU. This year was Fr. O’Shea’s first Crib Ceremony.

Participants in the event, which involved placing all the pieces ceremoniously in the manger scene,  included members of the freshman class officers, Fr. O’Shea and Dave Zlockie, Class of 2014 advisor.

“I’m really excited about the Crib Ceremony. I think this is a really special ceremony that they are having to bolster the Catholic feel of the university,” said freshman music major Christin Casavant.

According to Ecker, the class officers were really the people to make the program come together. They did a majority of the planning and conducted a couple of practices.

“It was difficult to get people to say ‘I’m going to do this and I’m going to be there at this time,’” said Ecker.

The Crib Ceremony originated in 1974, according to Sister Victoria Marie Gribschaw, SC.  As class advisor of the Class of 1978, she and her co-advisor decided to think of an event for the freshmen during Christmas on the Hill. At that time every other class had a responsibility in the Christmas festivities.

“We wanted the freshmen to feel at home,” said Sr. Gribschaw, associate professor of family and consumer sciences and chairperson of the division of social sciences. “That class had a lot of class spirit and they were excited to start this event.”

The original event was held after Christmas Break (as were all of the Christmas on the Hill activities). The whole freshman class and other members of the SHU community gathered on the second floor of the administration building with candles. The creche was placed outside the front of admin.

“The ceremony was very similar to what we saw tonight. There were readings and music. We also had the Dean of Administration who had attended both high school and college at Seton Hill speak about what it was like to be a freshman when she was,” said Sr. Gribschaw.

Over the years the college grew and the alumni started getting involved with the ceremony and telling stories about their freshman years. Now the ceremony ends with refreshments in the Greensburg room.

“I love that we still start the Christmas on the Hill celebrations on a Christian theme. It helps us to remember the reason for the season,” said. Sr. Gribschaw.


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