Singing seminarians from the Dioceses of Brooklyn and Rockville Centre and the Archdiocese of New York are planning a series of Christmas concerts coming soon to a parish near you.
The men who make up the Schola at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers are hoping to raise enough money to offset the $45,000 estimated cost of a concert tour of France next summer.
The 17 members of the Schola will sing in European locations where the rich tradition of Catholic sacred music has developed.
The itinerary is structured to enable the seminarians to learn more about the development of sacred music. They will also experience the itinerary of a pilgrimage that will include moments of deep encounter with places of Catholic martyrs and saints which hopefully will support the formation of their religious vocations.
Accompanying the Schola will be Father Matthew Ernest, director of Sacred Liturgy, and Dr. Jennifer Donelson, director of the Schola and a professor of music at the seminary.
The tour is also open to the public who are free to sign on. A pilgrimage to Compostela is one option for travelers.
“There’s so much Catholic history in France, especially in regard to sacred music,” said Dr. Donelson. “So much of the sacred music of the Church comes from France.”
Sam Bellafiore, a second-year theologian for the Diocese of Albany, and a music major from Notre Dame University, said joining the Schola was a natural thing for him to do when he entered the seminary. “Singing in choirs is what I do,” he said.
He looking forward to returning to France which he has visited several times and credits with “a lot of the formative things for my vocation.” “I left bits of my heart in France,” he explained. “I’m especially looking forward to visiting Paris.”
But he admits that rehearsing for the upcoming Christmas concerts has been “a lot of hard work. We’ve been practicing for a couple of months.”
The local concerts will include Christmas and Advent carols, in English, Spanish, Italian and Latin.
“Singing itself is joyful,” said second-year student Alex Lee, a native of South Korea studying for the Brooklyn Diocese. “When I sing, I find joy and with joy, I am praising God.”
After learning English only two years ago, he laughs about how now he can even sing in Spanish and Italian.
Michael Connelly, a third-year student from the Archdiocese of New York, points out that a real bond has developed among the men because of the practices and the upcoming trip.
Dr. Donelson, who has been on the full-time faculty at the seminary for two years, teaches two music classes to the seminarians and in the theology master’s program offered at St. Joseph’s.
Previously, she had taught in Florida.
“I was teaching at a secular university but I realized I wanted to use my talents for the Church. I find it really rewarding to work with future priests. They have a real joy about themselves.”
The Christmas Concerts will be held: Dec. 1, at 7:30 p.m., at St. Aidan’s Church, Williston Park; Dec. 2, at 7:30 p.m., at St. Sebastian’s Church, Woodside; Dec. 3, at 7 p.m., at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Manhattan; Dec. 4, at 4 p.m., at St. Joseph’s Seminary.
Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance at the concert sites as well as by logging on to www.DunwoodieMusic.org or by calling 914-968-6200.