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Ozone Park Concerts Will Mark Papal Canonizations

The unprecedented canonization of 20th-century popes will be marked with the performance of two of the most popular works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Exultate Jubilate and his Requiem Mass – by the Music at the Gate Chorus and Orchestra on Sunday, May 4, at 4 p.m. at St. Mary Gate of Heaven Church, 101st Avenue at 104th Street, Ozone Park.

The program will be conducted by Music Director Joshua Bavaro and will feature soloists Emily Way, Eliza Bonet, Michael Anderson and Robert Mellon.

Particular Closeness

Parishioners at St. Mary Gate of Heaven feel a particular closeness to Pope John Paul II since his visit to Queens in 1995, when he celebrated Mass at the nearby Aqueduct Racetrack. But the connection of the parish, served by the Missionaries of the Company of Mary – known as the Montfort Fathers – and the Daughters of Wisdom, runs even deeper. St. Louis de Montfort, the 17th-century priest who established these communities, had a deep devotion to the Blessed Mother. His dedication to Mary, Totus Tuus (I am Totally Yours), was adopted by the then-Cardinal Karol Wojtyla as his apostolic motto. Pope John Paul II studied Montfort’s writings as a seminarian and visited the grave of St. Louis on a visit to France.

St. John XXIII convened the Second Vatican Council, whose liturgical reforms led to what has now become Music Ministry in parishes, where the faithful were invited to pray through song. John Paul’s musical training encouraged a profound appreciation for the roles of the arts in the expression of the faith. A concert to celebrate these new saints seemed to be appropriate, and the two works chosen reflect both the joy and acceptance of God’s Divine Mercy.

Father Gerald Fitzsimmons, S.M.M., pastor, said these concerts are an important opportunity for the faithful to come together to experience sacred music in a prayerful setting. Parishioners, friends and neighbors from across the diocese are invited to attend. All concerts in the Music at the Gate series are presented free to make them available to the maximum audience.

The Music at the Gate concert series is under the direction of Joshua Bavaro, an Ozone Park native who is the founder of the Metropolitan Philharmonic of New York and has conducted the works of Mozart in Italy. A master’s graduate from the Manhattan School of Music, he is continuing his studies at the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.

Artistic Director Philip Skabeikis is also a St. Mary Gate of Heaven parishioner, and his extensive choral performance experience includes the Sacred Music Chorale of Richmond Hill, Hunter College, Queens College and Forest Hills Choruses, and the Schola Sine Nomine.

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