About three dozen children in grades 3-9 from four parishes in the Diocese of Cleveland spent much of the day on March 11 rehearsing as a group with music directors from their parishes during the third Diocesan Children’s Choir Festival.
Highlight of the day was when the group sang at the 4:30 p.m. vigil Mass in the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist. Auxiliary Bishop Michael Woost was the celebrant and he acknowledged the group.
The festival occurred twice before the coronavirus pandemic, in 2019 and 2020. It resumed this year after a two-year break.
(See photo gallery above.)
The young singers rehearsed the music at their parishes for several weeks before meeting the morning of March 11 at St. Peter Church at East 17thStreet and Superior Avenue in downtown Cleveland, where they rehearsed together for the first time.
After two practice sessions, a snack and lunch, the students and chaperones walked to the cathedral for a scavenger hunt and another rehearsal before Mass.
Matusak said the scavenger hunt had a Eucharistic theme to connect it with the three-year, ongoing Eucharistic Revival.
The students were asked to find three Eucharistic images: the Last Supper, a mother pelican feeding her chicks and the diocesan Eucharistic Revival logo. After the scavenger hunt, they toured Resurrection Chapel and saw the tombs of previous Cleveland bishops and the relics of St. Christine.
Choir members represented Communion of Saints Parish in Cleveland Heights/East Cleveland; Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Lorain; St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Parish in Avon; and St. Matthew Parish in Akron.
Music directors who organized the event were Meg Matuska, Communion of Saints; Angela Bak, Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary; Jolene Nelson, St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception; and Bridget Jankowski, St. Matthew.
Greg Heislman, cathedral music director and organist, also worked with the choir during the rehearsal before Mass.
Sienna Lowman, a homeschooled ninth-grader from Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish, served as cantor for the liturgy. She participated in all three choir festivals and recently was a cantor for the 125th anniversary/pastor installation Mass at her parish that was celebrated by Bishop Edward Malesic.
In his homily at the March 11 liturgy, Bishop Woost used the theme of thirst both as a reflection of the two readings and a way to reference the beautiful music shared by the children’s choir.
“In the first reading, we hear how the Israelites were thirsty in the desert and in the second, we learn how Jesus was thirsty for the Samaritan woman at the well to experience the grace of conversion,” he explained. “And here we have the children of the choir thirsty for music and being able to use their talent to sing God’s praises and inviting us to recognize his presence.”
At the end of the Mass, Bishop Woost called for a round of applause for the children and then invited them to gather on the steps of the altar for photos.