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Members of the St. Cecilia Choir practice recently in Omaha. Photo by Bob Ervin/Ervin Photography.

St. Cecilia Choir prepares for special trip to Rome

People across the archdiocese are helping – and still more can be done – to send 29 St. Cecilia Choir members to Rome as part of the closing Mass of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.

The choir is paying its way for the Nov. 14-21 pilgrimage, joining several other choirs from around the country and the Sistine Chapel Choir to form a 300-voice ensemble for the celebration. Pope Francis will preside at the Nov. 20 Mass in St. Peter’s Square, on the Feast of Christ the King.

Several parishes have taken up second collections and other generous donations have been received, but more help is needed, said Marie Rubis Bauer, director of music for the archdiocese and St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha.

Choir members have been busy, too, working concessions at local sporting events and holding dine-out nights at restaurants. A recording of the choir’s music also is available for $20, Rubis Bauer said.

The choir will receive a formal send-off at a Nov. 6 Mass and blessing by Archbishop George J. Lucas at the cathedral.

About two dozen family members and friends will accompany the choir from Omaha. And the choir is not the only group from the archdiocese traveling to Rome.

Two dozen people will make a separate Nov. 12-21 pilgrimage organized by the Catholic Voice, which will include the closing Mass and a papal audience.

In addition to fundraising, the choir also is gathering prayer intentions to be taken to the closing Mass, and musical preparations include learning the Mass setting recently sent from Rome, Rubis Bauer said.

Music selections for the Jubilee Mass include Gregorian chant, pieces composed for the occasion by the Sistine Chapel Choir’s director, and a mercy hymn, "Misericordae Sicut Pater," commissioned for the Year of Mercy, Rubis Bauer said.

Also at the closing Mass, the Cathedral Choir will join the Cathedral Choir of Sioux City, Iowa, to sing during the prelude a piece written by a Polish composer honoring St. John Paul II. And when the choir arrives for its week-long visit to Rome, it will sing at a Nov. 15 Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica. Choir members also will attend the pope’s weekly audience Nov. 16.

The week will include rehearsals and a visit to the Catacombs of St. Callixtus, which is the burial site of numerous early popes and the original burial site of St. Cecilia, patron of the Omaha archdiocese and musicians.

The choir will join the cloistered nuns of the Basilica of St. Cecilia Nov. 17 for Vespers and a dinner, and sing at the current tomb of St. Cecilia in the basilica, Rubis Bauer said, including a commissioned work called "Hymn to St. Cecilia," by Michael McCabe, a composer from the archdiocese.

On Nov. 18, the choir will give a concert at the Church of St. Paul Inside the Walls, performing several pieces from the CD.

Choir members also will visit other basilicas and historic sites, and commemorate the Jubilee of Mercy by walking together through the Holy Door at St. Peter’s Basilica.

People can learn more about the pilgrimage and ways to help at Donations can be made out to "Cathedral Choir Pilgrimage" and mailed to Saint Cecilia Cathedral at 701 N. 40th St., Omaha, NE 68131.

'Journey to Mercy'

One source of funds for members of St. Cecilia Choir planning to participate in Rome at the closing Mass for the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy is a $20 CD they recorded, titled "Journey to Mercy."

It is available after most Sunday Masses at St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha, the cathedral gift shop, the St. Cecilia Institute on the second floor of the Monsignor Graham building and at the St. Cecilia Parish rectory.

The CD includes several pieces the choir will sing in Rome, said Marie Rubis Bauer, director of music for the archdiocese and St. Cecilia Cathedral.

"It’s a special kind of fundraiser, because it’s not only about raising funds, but about offering back our ministry to the people," she said.

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