Folkheads in Ireland!
by Melissa Broom
This fall marked the Folk Choir’s seventh pilgrimage to what many of the Notre Dame students and staff acknowledge as “the motherland”. After spending 10 days exploring the beauty of Ireland, taking tea breaks, and enjoying Folk Choir fellowship, many of us were ready to permanently relocate. Irish hospitality is enough to make any foreigner feel as if they had spent their entire life being part of the rich communities we visited. From the perspective of someone who loves traveling Europe, the trip was amazing, but from the perspective of one studying Liturgy, it was fascinating. The Irish culture is one that radiates with the warmth of hospitality, takes great joy in the simple things, and has a passion for celebrating life. One would think that the Liturgy that was taking place in a country like this would reflect these cultural values. But what we experienced was just the opposite. The irony of the situation was stunning.
Before the group even set their eyes on “Dublin’s fair city” or the glory of Galway Bay, we were reminded of the nature of our trip. It was more than a choir tour; it was a Pilgrimage. The mission of the Folk Choir is to give people a voice in the liturgy, to inspire them to find ways in which they can actively participate in the prayer of both their community and that of the Universal Church. Whatever we may do, and wherever we may do it, our mission is to plant seeds. In this case, we were both blessed and honored to be doing that abroad. While many of the congregations we visited had less than ideal levels of participation in the Sunday liturgy, what we experienced in both workshops and concerts was amazing. People were beginning to get excited. They were beginning to see a vision of what liturgical renewal means. Our music was a voice for them. The pieces themselves were something they were able to connect with. In some cases this meant that they were given back a voice that was already known to them through a revival of pieces that had been a part of their culture and childhood. While we were busy stumbling through Gallic phrases, they were busy asking the question, “how can I re-introduce this piece to our Sunday worship?”
Our presence there was effective on two levels. The first level is practical; we were offering them both liturgical and musical inspiration and ideas through our realization of the liturgy. The second level was purely symbolic, but it added to the efficacious nature of the first. We are a choir made up of young adults. This symbol is more powerful than any of the technical advice we could have given in workshops. By simply being present, we were a symbol of hope for the renewal of the church. To them, that meant that it is in fact possible to interest the youth in the participation in the Kononia that we are offered by the nature of being Catholic. To many of them, we were their sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren that had left the Church. We were the hope of reconciliation, and a liturgical breath of fresh air.
For many, the trip can be summed up in the words of St. Francis of Assisi, “for it is in giving that we receive”. The hope that we gave to those present in the parishes we visited was returned to us through their love and deep appreciation for our time and talent. Our deepest joy was knowing that we were making a difference, and remembering that we are not the “renowned” Notre Dame Folk Choir, but simply the servants of our brothers and sisters in Christ, sharing the gifts that we have been given, as members of one Church.
All of the thumbnails below are pictures from the choir's trip to Ireland from October 17-26 of 2003; details on the tour can be found here. All of the thumbnails can be clicked for a larger version of the picture. Pictures were contributed by Devon Candura, Joe Nava, Michael Quisao, and Paul VanLeeuwen.
Joys of traveling:
waiting at the airport; electrical experimentation; Joe poses with George, the bus driver
[left-right] Folkheads!; exploring the monastic ruins at Clonmacnoise; Jenny, Anne, Devon, and Margaret pose with the landscape; getting ready for a group shot in front of Kylmore Abbey; a beautiful roadside scuplture; Joe, Erica, Mark, and Sarah; tasting the Irish rainbows; the Kirner family; Blarney Castle; simply wow.
Fun at Waterford Crystal:
biggest wine glass ever, blowing crystal, and Josh and Mike go through the looking glass...
The music, of course:
Sang finds a new instrument; Nick tries the bagpipes; Josh and Erica jam with a local band; Steve finds the groove.
no comment; hooded Cookie; Mark takes his chances...; we leave our mark.