Lori Amos: In 1990, Washington National Cathedral was looking for ways to attract more visitors during the Christmas holiday season when Mrs. Beulah Sommer, a Cathedral friend and docent, came forward with an offer to share creches from her personal collection for a new exhibit of "Nativity Scenes from Around the World." As the newly hired program assistant for the Department of Visitor Programs, Lori Amos was given the assignment to help the Cathedral's curatorial team set up the exhibit (mostly by carrying boxes) and to help research and write the gallery guide for the exhibit. While she had grown up with "typical" creches at home and at her church, it came as a revelation to discover the incredible variety of cultures, styles, and materials in Mrs. Sommer's collection. The exhibit team was tasked to use the creches to portray Christ's birth in ways that were relevant and relatable to people from around the world. From the beginning, the exhibit proved popular, not only with visiting families, but school, social and bus groups as well. Seeing that the Cathedral had the beginnings of a yearly tradition, Mrs. Sommer graciously loaned her collection each year, where it became the centerpiece of the Cathedral's new exhibit program. In 1998, Mrs. Sommer made the extraordinary gift of the bulk of her collection, over 600 sets, to the Cathedral, so that they could continue to be shared with the community who had come to love them. Over the years, Mrs. Amos' responsibilities for both the collection and its display increased and for the past 25 years, she has, as a volunteer, been largely responsible for planning and implementing the Cathedral's creche exhibit. She has responsibilities in building, caring for and curating what is now the Cathedral's permanent creche collection. With her husband, Chip, who serves as the Cathedral exhibit's Technical Director, they also have an extensive creche collection of their own, which they share as part of the Cathedral exhibit.
Jem Sullivan: Dr. Jem Sullivan is a wife and mother, educator and author, who holds a doctorate from The Catholic University of America. At present, Dr. Sullivan serves as professor of Catechetics in the School of Theology and Religious Studies at The Catholic University of America. She is the author of four books and writes for a variety of Catholic publications on faith and culture, including art essays in Magnificat and a syndicated Scripture column for Catholic News Service. Jem is the host of a podcast “Echoing Faith Today,” dedicated to conversations around contemporary catechetical issues. In the past, she served as a volunteer docent at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., leading tours of the museum’s masterpiece collections.
Father David Grenier, OPM: Originally from Canada, Fr. David joined the Franciscans of the Holy Land in 2007. After completing his studies for priesthood, he was appointed as Director of the Magnificat Music School, located in the Old City of Jerusalem, that brings together through music Christians, Jews and Muslims. For three years, starting in 2016, he was Secretary of the Holy Land, helping the Custos of the Holy Land supervising the different activities that the Franciscans have in the region. Fr. David was transferred in 2019 to the Commissariat of the Holy Land in Washington, where he is now Commissary of the Holy Land, vicar for the Franciscan community, Vocational Animator for U.S. and Canada and editor of the Holy Land Review.