St. Cecilia’s Festival of Carols lifts spirits, brings healing after school tragedy
Story and photo by Carolee McGrath
WILBRAHAM – Hundreds turned out for “A Festival of Carols” at St. Cecilia Parish, here, on Sunday, Dec. 16.
The annual Christmas concert featured traditional carols sung by the adult and youth choirs.
“We like to give something back to the community,” said Todd Rovelli, the parish’s music director and organist. “We start work in September and work up until the time the show goes on.”
The concert had an international theme this year, with the choir performing songs in several different languages.
“During this Christmas season, as we celebrate Christ, the light of the world. He really is the light of the whole world,” said Father Joseph M. Soranno, St. Cecilia’s pastor. “I think we chose the theme of an international Christmas because I think we really are connected.
"And the fact that we’re doing Christmas carols in different languages represents all of the different people, not just at St. Cecilia’s, but throughout the whole world,” Father Soranno said. “All Catholics share in the same faith, to celebrate the birth of Jesus, our savior.”
The choir performed “Gesu Bambino” in Italian; “Il Est Ne” in French; the West Indies carol “Calypso Lullaby”; “Al Shlosha D’Varim” in Hebrew; and “Lulajze Jezuniu” in Polish. Father Daniel Cymer, St. Cecilia’s parochial vicar, who is from Poland, was one of the soloists.
“This event, we need that especially in this time before Christmas,” Father Cymer said. “We all are united and this coming Christmas, Jesus will be born, will be born again in our hearts,” he said.
The choir also led the audience in singing congregational carols, including “O Little Town of Bethlehem” and “O Come, All Ye Faithful.” Parishioner Jean Blanchard said she loves the annual tradition.
“I come because our choir is wonderful,” she said. “I just love to hear them sing. It’s a good way to start the Christmas season and get into the Christmas spirit.”
But even as the choir lifted people up in song, the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., weighed heavily on everyone’s hearts. Last week, 20 children and six educators were murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Father Cymer, who gave the children at St. Cecilia’s a special blessing at Sunday morning’s Family Liturgy, said he, like everyone else, is heartbroken. “Even with the tragic event, it touched all of us, all of the families across the United States because it could happen in every school,” he said. “But we cannot forget that God is above all that.”
Father Soranno said music is a way to help people heal.
“In light of what just happened in Connecticut recently, with that awful tragedy, I think it brings us all together as people of faith, who really need to bond together. And music certainly helps us heal as well,” he said.