Diocesan News

A Culturally Diverse Selection of Choir Voices Will Perform at Diocesan Eucharistic Revival

Michael Fontana: Michael Fontana has dedicated the past 30 years of his life to producing and directing pastoral music in the Roman Catholic tradition. Photo: Tablet Archives

PROSPECT HEIGHTS — Choirs from across the Diocese of Brooklyn will leave the familiar confines of their home parishes on Saturday, April 20, to unite in an ensemble representing the Catholic diversity of Brooklyn and Queens at the Diocesan Eucharistic Revival. 

The event is expected to bring upwards of 10,000 faithful to Louis Armstrong Stadium in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park — to lead them in prayer. A choir of around 75 performers will sing music from a variety of cultural backgrounds. 

Those songs will have their roots in African American, Chinese, Creole, Polish music, and more, and draw from such sources as the “Lead Me, Guide Me” hymnal. 

“The Catholic Church is made stronger by way of the fact that it comprises so many different cultures, countries of origins and languages, and different approaches to liturgy,” said Joseph Murray, the administrative assistant for the Vicariate Office of Black Catholic Concerns. 

Murray also serves as the co-director of music ministry at St. Martin de Porres Parish in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Murray has spearheaded the organization of this ensemble choir. It was at the request of Bishop Robert Brennan that this chorale reflects the diocese’s diversity, Murray said, where Masses are regularly celebrated in 26 different languages.

“He wants to make sure how we present liturgy, and how we present this rededication to the Eucharist is also a representation of the wide cultural diversity that exists in our boroughs,” Murray said. “Most especially, he has asked that it be reflected in both the musical selections for the day as well as the people participating.”

Young and old will be joining together in song, as the Midwood Catholic Academy Choir brings around 30 students to perform at the event. The predominantly African American and Caribbean ensemble performs at cultural events across the diocese, recently performing at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Mass at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Flatlands.

Midwood Catholic Academy: Members of the Midwood Catholic Academy choir sing during a Mass commemorating the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at St. Thomas Aquinas Church in the Flatlands section of Brooklyn, N.Y., Jan. 15, 2024. The service was sponsored by the Vicariate Office of Black Catholic Concerns of the Diocese of Brooklyn. (OSV News photo/Gregory A. Shemitz, The Tablet)

“It’s a great opportunity to show how diverse we are and, also in our diversity, how united we can be,” said Ludwine Joseph, the director of the choir, as well as the music teacher at Midwood Catholic Academy. 

The choir sings twice a month at St. Thomas Aquinas and is composed of children from the fifth to eighth grades. 

Bishop Brennan’s efforts at inclusivity are one of the reasons Joseph loves his leadership in the diocese, and considers it an honor to be invited to perform. Plus, she finds the revival to be an opportunity for more than just faith expression — it gives the students the chance to meet other young Catholics in the diocese.

“I think it is wonderful for the children to be able to meet with all the other children,” Joseph said. “Some of them don’t really go out much to see what other children are up to spiritually. I think it’s a great awakening for them to be part of something that is so wonderful and something that is so inspiring.” 

For the Eucharistic Revival planned for October 2023, the choir was set to include the traditional instruments seen in church, such as organs and pianos. It was “high church,” with predominantly orchestral style music slated for performance, said Michael Fontana, the chairman of the Diocesan Music Commission, who was scheduled to perform with the choir in October. 

With the October event postponed due to bad weather, Fontana is now helping spread the word about the choir.

“We are from one of the most diverse dioceses in the nation, and we want that to be reflected in not only what the congregation looks like, but also what the congregation sounds like,” he said.

The ensemble is holding rehearsals on April 12 and April 19. Want to join? 

Musical training or choral experience is preferred, and singers will be selected through the Diocesan Liturgy Office. For those interested in joining the choir, call 718-924-2549 or email DobERChoir@gmail.com.