By Stefanie Gutierrez
BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CNS) — A Brooklyn chorale’s journey to Rome to participate in the celebration of the Oct. 11 canonization of Blessed Jeanne Jugan, foundress of the Little Sisters of the Poor, began with a simple phone call.
Glenn Mohr, founder and creative director of the Glenn Mohr Chorale, phoned Mother Margaret Regina, then the superior and director of the Queen of Peace Residence in Queens Village.
He asked if she would be interested in having the chorale sing for the residents at Christmastime.
She said “yes” and, in Mohr’s words, “Our extraordinary connection and adventure with the Little Sisters of the Poor began.”
That was six years ago, and now Mohr and the chorale he has directed for the past 20 years were to leave Oct. 7 for Rome, where they were scheduled to sing at the three major Masses celebrating the canonization of Blessed Jeanne.
More than 3,000 pilgrims were expected to attend each Mass — Oct. 10 in Italian at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, Oct. 12 in English at the Basilica of St. Mary Major, and Oct. 13 in French at the Basilica of St. John Lateran.
As the chorale rehearsed at the Queen of Peace Residence on a recent Sunday afternoon, Mohr spoke to The Tablet, Brooklyn diocesan newspaper, about how “this small miracle” came to be.
“Because we perform at the residence throughout the year, we have a special connection with the sisters,” he said. “So last September, when Mother General Celine came over to celebrate her 50th anniversary at the novitiate where she trained in Queens Village with the other jubilarians from her class, Mother Margaret Charles, the superior at the residence, asked if the chorale could do something.”
Mohr and Frances McNamara decided to write a musical presentation, titled “The Hidden Heart,” based on the life of Blessed Jeanne. The chorale performed for Mother General Celine and the other sisters, and “everyone loved it,” Mohr said. “The sisters were weeping and were just thrilled.”
After Blessed Jeanne’s canonization was announced, Mother Margaret Regina, now the provincial superior, asked Mohr “if the chorale would be willing to go to Rome and sing there,” he related.
In preparation, Mohr decided he wanted to refine the original script of “The Hidden Heart” and traveled to Brittany, in France, to visit the town where Blessed Jeanne lived and “get a better feel for her life.”
He visited the sisters’ motherhouse and experienced “firsthand the birthplace, the first homes and important locations connected with the life of Jeanne Jugan and the ministry of the sisters. … It was a wonderful experience.”
He said the trip “showed me how connected this order is to this woman. They follow exactly as she did. They speak to her as if she is still alive and walking among us. … Their history is very fresh in their mind and they look at their ministry as a living continuum of her life.”
While the chorale will be singing at the three Masses and attending the canonization ceremony, they also hoped they will have the opportunity to perform the revised draft of “The Hidden Heart” in Rome.
When they return, the chorale will travel to the Jeanne Jugan Residence in Somerville, Mass., and then to Lincoln Center in New York where the group will perform the musical play Nov. 7.
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