Joseph Pronechen is staff writer with the National Catholic Register since 2005 and before that a regular correspondent for the paper. His articles have appeared in a number of national publications including Columbia magazine, Soul, Faith and Family, Catholic Digest, and Marian Helper. His religion features have also appeared in Fairfield County Catholic and in major newspapers. He is the author of Fruits of Fatima — Century of Signs and Wonders. He holds a graduate degree and formerly taught English and courses in film study that he developed at a Catholic high school in Connecticut. Joseph and his wife Mary reside on the East Coast.
Thanks to the inspiration of a retired priest, the Advent and Christmas message has been spreading around the world through the “Patiently Waiting Campaign” promoted by Blythe Kaufman from West Hartford, Connecticut. It’s as simple as putting two words on a sign — “Patiently Waiting” — and displaying it for all to see.
“We invite people from around the world to place these signs in windows,” Kaufman told the Register. “It’s a gentle way for people to show where their hearts can be found during this Advent season.”
Walking to Mass a few years ago, Kaufman spotted a sign in the window of a home — “Patiently Waiting.”
“Every time I walked by, I was happy to see it; I was grateful for it,” she said with a good measure of joy in her voice.
“I found out later a holy priest put it in his window,” she said, referring to Father John Blackall, who died in 2013. “A lot of people at his funeral talked about this little sign and how much it meant to them.”
On Christmas Day, Father Blackall would replace the sign with another that read, “Christ Is Born.”
The signs prompted Kaufman, who is also the founder of the “Children’s Rosary” prayer movement, to launch the campaign four years ago.
Questions are welcome.
A babysitter who saw the sign once asked Kaufman, “What are they waiting for?” prompting explanation and discussion about Advent.
“Then,” she continues, “the answer comes when, on Christmas, we put up the sign ‘Christ Is Born.’ We live on a busy street, and many people can see it, think about it, and later realize what we’re doing.”
The “Patiently Waiting” sign can pop up in unexpected places, too. Last year, Kaufman’s son built a big snowman in the yard and had the frosty figure hold a “Patiently Waiting” sign.
The campaign has taken hold in Europe and as far and wide as Vietnam, Pakistan and the Philippines.
Kaufman has received photos from several worldwide locations with various pictures of the sign in windows or being held by happy schoolchildren, showcasing how the faithful are “passing on this wonderful tradition and awareness of what we’re doing during Advent.”
The sign “creates a way for people to ponder for a moment and think. And it’s good for children to participate, too. It opens up this possibility of people expressing their faith.”
Kaufman says people can send pictures or request a free flyer (PDF) at firstname.lastname@example.org (or download from the website). Kaufman asks that people share the country, state or town where the pictures were taken, but personal information will not be included on the website if the photo is posted online.
“It’s fun for the children to come on our website and see people from other countries and parts of the world,” she said.
“Children see how international we are, and yet our hearts are all connected, as, through Advent, we approach the same moment of Christmas.”