St. Gregory the Great Parish Choir 2016-17 Season
St. Gregory the Great Parish Choir on Corpus Christi, June 2016, our final mass of the season. Photo by Craig Cernek.
Welcome back choir members and welcome new choir members to our 2016-2017 choir season!
Why I belong to the St. Gregory the Great Parish Choir
By Susan Licciardi
For all my adult life, I’d been seeking an opportunity to sing and a church that I could call home. I found both by an Easter miracle 13 years ago at St. Gregory the Great. I walked into the church and felt immediately comfortable. There was nothing forced or off putting. I was me and the church was fine with that. It also reminded me of the churches I’d just been awed by in Paris. It was a palpable peace I felt and that hadn’t happened in all the years. Then, the piano played. I turned to my husband and said, “Who is the piano player”? It was brilliant playing, a cut above. There is an “it” factor in art. So many artists can be technically gifted but there isn’t that other indefinable something that rises out. This musician was doing something brilliant. I joined the choir that day. It was that easy. I went up, introduced myself and in the most welcoming cheerful manner, Patrick said “of course”, rehearsal is Thursday and he handed me a ritual song book. No auditions, worries, judgments, fear. I waltzed into the most meaningful experiences of my life that day.
The music aspect is truly extraordinary. We sing the most challenging pieces in all genres and languages. We work these up in 2 ½ hours to sing for Sunday. Most of us are just volunteer singers. How he is able to get us to sing such material without any criticism or calling out, is beyond me. He is always patient, funny, kind, discerning, encouraging and believing we can do it. And we do. I think we all are proud of our efforts and come to cherish these hours of singing we do. This experience is a master class in music and we are all growing and learning every day. Many times we marvel how he does it; play, hear us, remember details, sing, conduct. And it’s fun; laughing, comfort, no egos. To be allowed to participate in such an elevated creative endeavor is truly one of the best things in my life and I know we all feel this way. Many of our members have come and gone, starting families, moving away, passing away. Yet we never lose this connection or forget the music. We keep in touch. Music is the essence of my life and to be given this opportunity to pursue and take part in such a deep and challenging way is more than I could ask for. And if that’s not enough, we travel and sing in Europe every two years, singing in and seeing some of the most sacred spaces. When people ask me what I am, I often say a singer and traveler. Both of these I found at St. Gregory the Great.
I spoke of the music first, but it is the faith and sense of community that also sustains me. Never have I felt such a kinship and safety with the Catholic community. I have become a true faithful; praying, seeking and loving god in every day. My life has been immeasurably blessed and it just gets more so. I have this group of singers, friends, and parishioners who I truly care for and care for me. No one is faking it or looking down on me. I bring who I am as others do and we honestly share the faith of God. I’d searched for this all my life and to get a renewed and strengthened faith and the opportunity to sing this faith is such a miraculous blessing. I don’t know where I’d be without this St. Gregory experience. It is completely the definition of my life. The reason I belong to the Parish Choir is because it is here I truly belong.
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