|St. Justin Martyr Parish choir.|
“All roads lead to Rome.” For one Markham choir those words recently came alive in a very special way.
The choirs of St. Justin, Martyr Parish recently returned from a whirlwind trip to Italy in March. During the 11-day pilgrimage, the choir led the music at Mass in a number of churches in Rome and throughout Italy, including the main altar of St. Peter’s Basilica. Other performances of note were at the Chapel of St. Catherine inside the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, accompanying the liturgy inside St. Mark’s in Venice and singing in the Basilica of St. Lorenzo in Florence and in St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice.
|The choir prepares to sing outside the Basilica of San Francesco d'Assisi in Assisi.|
The pilgrimage was the idea of Julia Iacono-Hauser and her husband and parish organist, Eric Hauser. Together, they dreamed of a trip that would strengthen the spirituality and commitment of nearly 40 music ministry members and their spouses.
"When you have a bona fide choir that sings sacred music in four parts, it seems appropriate for them to journey home to Vatican City and sing God’s praise while obtaining meaning and a deeper sense of faith and friendship,” Julia said.
For Julie Levy, one of several lead cantors in the choir, this trip helped her understand the importance of music and its place in liturgy.
“This trip helped to enhance the spirituality and works of God’s ways in my life.” Levy said. “As a choir, we united as one in the eyes of God – both in word and in song. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. God’s meaning and our purpose came alive!”
|The choir sings at St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City.|
The Second Vatican Council’s Instruction on Music in the Liturgy states that “through [music], prayer is expressed in a more attractive way, the mystery of the liturgy, with its hierarchical and community nature, is more openly shown, the unity of hearts is more profoundly achieved by the union of voices, minds are more easily raised to heavenly things by the beauty of the sacred rites, and the whole celebration more clearly prefigures that heavenly liturgy which is enacted in the holy city of Jerusalem.” Our choir continues to closely study this document.
|The group poses with the dome of St. Peter's Basilica seen in the background.|
As we move forward from our experience in Italy, I give thanks to God for the gift this trip has been to our parish community. With Holy Week and the great season of Easter approaching, I pray that the parishioners of St. Justin Martyr will continue hearing the sound of our faith and the voice of Our Saviour in the liturgies that our choirs serve. Ultimately, it is God’s voice we follow and His glory we sing.
Andrew Santos is Youth Minister at St. Justin, Martyr Parish in Unionville, Ont.
He accompanied the group as a photographer and videographer and looks forward to sharing his experience in pictures with the parish community in the days and weeks to come.