The Australian Nativity scene is an annual project that is part of Melbourne Archdiocese. The creator & artist Wilson Fernandez has been building and creating the nativity crib scenes to capture the wonders & essence of Christmas, and the birthplace of baby Jesus for many years. The parish priest Fr. Tadeusz Ziolkowski of St. Elizabeth's Parish identified the talent and creativity of Wilson and encouraged him to do the Nativity Scene.
Australian Nativity Scene (ANS)
Since 2003, the Nativity scene has grown and has a remarkable quality and display size. Wilson’s work has not only been regarded as the greatest traditional nativity scene but is also Australia’s best display that takes the onlooker to the times of Christ. The traditional nativity scene has become so popular that it has drawn crowd from all over and all walks of life. So, it is well known as 'Australian Nativity Scene'
The intent of the Nativity Scene is to convey the true meaning of Christmas. Hence, the Nativity Scene starts with the advent week and finishes with the feast of Epiphany. Wilson communicates the story of Christmas with a weekly theme. In first week, the scene is setup with a township with regular villagers, traders, travellers, farmers, animals etc. carrying out their normal life. Week 2 onwards, the entry of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, no room at the Inn but manage to stay in a stable, birth of Jesus Christ, angel announces good news, shepherds visit, three wise men visit Baby Jesus & the last scene is the holy family flees to Egypt.
Wilson uses various natural material like soils, clay, straw, plants, and barks to give the nativity scene the most traditional and authentic impression of being in Bethlehem of the Christ era. He artistically creates the village and township with handmade huts, stables, buildings, bridges, palaces, houses, and temples surrounded with mountains, rocks, lakes and rivers etc. The nativity scene is special because it has a theme each week that tells the Christmas story.
Australian Nativity Scene (ANS) is a non-funded project. Hence, ANS relies on kind donations and sponsorships towards the purchased items e.g. raw materials, figurines etc. The parishioners, visitors and well-wishers have been the greatest supporters of this event. Their kind donations and contribution meet the actual expenses. Any extra amount remaining from their contribution is given away to the charity.
Labour of Love:
Wilson spends over 250 hours each year to create and maintain this display. His work is voluntary and does with great passion and love for the community but in specific, for the love of Jesus Christ. The entire ANS project from start to finish and ongoing maintenance of the event by the artist himself. Wilson has logistical and housekeeping assistance when needed from parishioners.
In 2013, the event marked the 10th anniversary and was a moment of a major milestone since inception. To mark this special event, Most Reverend Denis Hart Archbishop of Melbourne celebrated the Vigil Mass and blessed the Nativity Scene on Saturday, 14 December 2013