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Liturgical Ensemble & Singers well-received on Long Island

02.14.17
By: Mark Tarnacki
Jerome and singers in church

The large top image and bottom photo show high-school stops on the tour as the group plays larger stages. The photo here is during a parish Mass, as is the one below left. At lower right is the group enjoying dinner out together.

On their annual winter tour, 35 members of the Saint Michael's College Liturgical Ensemble and Singers offered music for Catholic Mass at two Catholic high schools and two churches on Long Island as they visited Syosset, Hicksville, New Hyde Park and Garden City, NY, the weekend of Feb. 3-5.

The group was joined by musical director Jerome Monachino ’91, Associate Director of Edmundite Campus Ministry for Liturgical Ministry, who directs 11 instrumentalists (four undergrads, seven alumni) including guitars, keys, two trumpets, trombone, two violins, bass, drums, percussion; and 24 singers (10 adult members, 14 students). The St. Mike’s musicians also were accompanied on their trip by the Rev. Brian J. Cummings, SSE ’86, Director of Edmundite Campus Ministry at Saint Michael’s. Father Cummings celebrated Mass at the four locations.

“We have been doing this evangelization tour for 18 years visiting various Catholic high schools and parishes in the northeast,” Father Cummings said. “We are grateful to the many who support us in our ministry and to the people at the host locations who warmly welcome us. The trip gives us an opportunity to be bring our mission on the road.”  Fr. Cummings also said this year’s appearances at the Catholic high schools nicely coincided with the end of nationally observed Catholic Schools Week.

group in church with Fr. BrianThe trip was a meaningful homecoming for the instrumental ensemble’s bass player (and sometimes guitarist) Nick Verdirame of Garden City, Long Island, whose home parish is Notre Dame in New Hyde Park (where the St. Mike’s group played). Nick is a graduate of Holy Trinity Diocesan High School in Hicksville, another performance site.

“Going to my home parish and high school was very moving,” said Verdirame, who strongly recommended those performance sites to the trip organizers/leaders and helped Monachino make the necessary connections during a preliminary scouting trip together in the summer.

 “I hit the lottery coming to Saint Mike's and getting the opportunity to play with this choir,” Verdirame said. “It meant the world to me to be able to share this upbeat church music with friends and family from home.”

The Saint Michael’s Liturgical Choir and Ensemble performs in its own eclectic and popular musical style, using a combination of African, Brazilian, and American Swing flavors to compliment traditional hymn singing. Guided by their mission of inspiring sung prayer, they perform with great enthusiasm. The group was one of the select few choirs invited to perform for Pope John Paul II at World Youth Day in Denver, Colo., in 1993.

Their Mass offerings on this tour included original pieces by director Monachino for the entrance and Responsorial Jerome with group at dinnerPsalm, along with “We are the Light of the World by Greif during the Presentation of gifts, “Eat this Bread (Taize), and the African-American Spiritual “This Little Light of Mine” as recessional.

Besides Father Cummings and Monachino, Katherine Hackett ’11 of the Admission office, a Long Island native who attended high school at one of the performance sites, Our Lady of Mercy in Syosset, joined the trip. “I saw many people I knew from my high school including some classmates who work there now,” Hackett said. “The school’s president missed us on Friday, but we happened to go to her church Sunday so she got to see us when she got back from a trip! And my family came to Mass on Sunday, so they got to enjoy the fun, as did a lot of alumni, family of alumni and family of current students -- and an accepted student and his dad!” She also attended a performance of the play “Beautiful” with the group Friday night

Hackett said younger siblings of current Saint Michael’s students stopped to say hi at both schools where the choir sang.

Following was the schedule of Masses where the St. Mike’s group performed:

Friday, February 3, 2017

9 a.m. Mass at Our Lady of Mercy Academy, Syosset, NY xylophone with Jerome and group

1 p.m. Mass at Holy Trinity Diocesan High School, Hicksville, NY 

Saturday, February 4, 2017

5 p.m. Mass at Notre Dame Church, New Hyde Park, NY

Sunday, February 5, 2017

8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. Masses at Church of St. Anne, Garden City, NY

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