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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

A grand night for sinners...and singing

I mentioned last week about our Vicariate 1 welcome mass for Archbishop Cupich. It is now history, and I thought I'd give a brief report for those who are interested.

We ended up with about 105 singers from (at least) seven parishes. This was about 50% more singers than I had expected, but they were nearly all there at the rehearsal Tuesday night, so there weren't any surprises on Thursday night. Rehearsal with the instruments was later than we'd hoped because the rehearsal fell on the unfortunately necessary snow-day of first reconciliation. Nevertheless, we had a good rehearsal and a second night for Gary and me of black-and-tans at McGonagle's. Thursday made it a trifecta.

The music was wonderful from beginning to end, as far as I am concerned, and the choirs from St. Hubert's, St. Colette's, St. Raymond's, St. Thomas of Villanova, Our Lady of the Wayside, St. Francis de Sales, and St. Anne's should be very proud of assembling such a warm sound in one two-hour rehearsal at St. Anne, and singing in Spanish, Italian, and Polish to boot! Gary Daigle and Marcy Weckler admirably covered the piano, and our 16-piece orchestra filled the church with a beautiful noise.

If there was any downside, it was that there weren't more people there. Our church holds about 1300-1400 on the main floor and mezzanine, and we probably had around 900-1000 there. We were guessing that some of the announcements may have scared people off with the concern about overcrowding and parking issues, which is too bad. Overcrowding wasn't any kind of an issue except in the choir area, and parking problems are de rigueur in downtown Barrington. But that little "problem" aside, it was a memorable night for us all. Archbishop Cupich's homily was from the heart, warm, humorous, and challenging. He worked a full day, attending a catechist conference at another vicariate church, then visiting several sites within St. Anne including our school and resale shop called "House of Hope" before joining the staff and other parish leaders for a light dinner preceding the liturgy. After mass, he graciously stayed for well over an hour of photographs with parish groups and individuals, and I'm guessing he left St. Anne's a very tired ordinary, resolving not to come back if there is a photographer in the same zip code.

Again, I want to offer my thanks to all who participated in making this liturgy beautiful, which includes literally dozens of people in the parish who worked on refreshments, environment, hospitality, and other ministries, as well as the musicians. Archdiocesan liturgical leaders Todd Williamson and Wendy Silhavy were with us as well; Wendy, in fact, sat in on the flute.

It was a grand night for sinners. "All Are Welcome" was big and had room to inspire because (finally) we got to sing all the verses, and everyone had a sense, if only for a minute, that the reign of God is bigger even than the church, and we need to keep aspiring for its vision even as we bump up against the limitations and restrictions of our human institutions. Just before mass, as we called one another to worship, we sang "You Have Built Your House of Living Stones." I was elated as they sang the bridge that Siobhan McGuire from St. Hubert's had extorted in exchange for the participation of her choir (really, Siobhan, we would have sung it anyway, but it was delightful to have you there!) I'll leave you with those words and a few of Genevieve Cano's lovely photographs as we both embark on another day of work for the reign of God.

How awesome is this temple,
The people where you dwell,
Where earth unites with heaven: Emmanuel!
You have built your house of living stones,
Nothing of our hands can hold you.
Who can build your house but you alone?
Who can hold you?
Build us into a house of prayer,
A house of peace, a house of care,
Inn and hospice, fortress, banquet hall,
Home for all.

Gary Daigle conducts the vicariate choir singing "You Have Built Your House." Photo by Gen Cano.
Blessing us as we sang, "I send you out on a mission of love," John Angotti's rousing anthem.

Archbishop Cupich, Bishop Rassas (l.), a couple of the deans and three of our priests, and our deacon Jim Condill.
Photo by Gen Cano.