By Holly Cardoza
More than two-dozen current and former members of Stonehill’s Chapel Choir traveled to Ireland this month to sing at masses at Catholic parishes there.
The musical tour included three different parishes with their first stop being at St. Nicholas Collegiate Church on Jan. 6 at the 6 p.m. Mass. Other performances included ones at Aras Ronan, Kylemore Abbey, the Galway Cathedral and via special invitation, the Poor Clare Monastery where they were invited to tea afterwards. They performed some of their favorite and most popular pieces: “Siyahamba,” “Set Your Heart on the Higher Gifts” and “A Walking Prayer.”
When they weren’t performing, there was no shortage of sightseeing through guided tours led by World Cultural Tours.
For most, it was their first time in Europe and excitement was at an all-time high. “It was awesome that we got to witness the amazing power of nature and God,” said sophomore and choir Treasurer, Micah McGowan.
The group visited, among other places, Cliffs of Moher, Ft. Dunn, the 12 Pins of Connemara region and the Aran Islands.
“Everything looks different. Even the things we have here, looks different there. It’s a completely different feel,” said sophomore, Kevin Hotaling.
Members said a special moment of the trip took place at the only long-term care facility in Inishmore, one of the Aran Islands, where the Chapel Choir performed for a group of senior citizens.
“It was really nice to be able to spread music to people who haven’t heard music in a long time from a bunch of youthful faces,” said Matt Messier, student president of the choir.
Several months of planning and fundraising that went into the trip, starting during family weekend in October. Different parishes throughout Southeastern Massachusetts donated much of the money needed for the trip.
“They were gracious enough to donate funds to us to help us share our music in Ireland. We were very grateful for that,” Messier said.
This isn’t the Chapel Choir’s first trip to Ireland. The group traveled to the Emerald in 2006 as well as France and Italy in years past.
For some, this particular trip to Ireland was a transformative experience.
The choir had only seven members a few years back and now has 40 plus members.
Under direction of Dan Davey of campus ministry who came on board in 2012, the Chapel Choir has made strides and gains over the past few years.
“This was kind of a comeback tour for us. My hope was that it would elevate our spirits and put us on the map,” said Dan Davey.
When will the Chapel Choir be back in Europe? “We’ll definitely be doing something every year. Something domestic next year, then Europe again after that. Maybe Notre Dame next year,” Davey said.
Stonehill’s Chapel Choir consists of approximately 40 people, of all different classes, who provide musical accompaniment to the 7 p.m. Sunday Masses every Sunday. They rehearse Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 6:15pm.