The story of Michigan’s very own Santa school and how the true spirit of Christmas can change lives

Fr. Joseph Marquis, a Byzantine priest based in Livonia, is a longtime trainer, educator and builder of “Santa Clauses,” teaching Kris Kringles everywhere the true meaning and spirit of the “jolly old elf.” 

(00:51) We meet John Masserant and learn about the St. Nicholas Institute, Michigan’s very own Santa school.

(2:18) We learn a bit about John’s background, what brought him to the St. Nicholas Institute, and what he found when he arrived.

(3:46) After learning a bit more about the kinds of courses offered at the St. Nicholas Institute, John tells us about the personal prayer and reflection time the retreat offers.

(6:11) We meet Fr. Joseph Marquis, pastor of Sacred Heart Byzantine Catholic Church in Livonia. We learn about Fr. Marquis’s history with Santa and the founding of the institute.

(7:24) Fr. Marquis tells us about his inspiration in forming the institute and the importance of overcoming popular myths about St. Nicholas and getting to know the real, beloved man.

(10:16) Fr. Marquis discusses the N-O-E-L model the institute follows, and gives us some of the saint’s personal history.

(12:00) We learn how the tradition of St. Nicholas’s gift-giving began, and how it’s rooted in the Gospel.

(14:04) Fr. Marquis shares the story of how his particular devotion to St. Nicholas came to be and the impact the saint had on his life at a young age.

(16:39) John tells us about the impact the retreat has had on his ministry as Santa, and the importance of remembering St. Nicholas as a man of faith.

Reporting by Daniel Meloy; narration by Casey McCorry; production by Ron Pangborn

Listen to ‘Detroit Stories’ on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or Fireside. Podcasts also will be posted biweekly on DetroitCatholic.com