Joe Nava '07
As a graduating fifth-year senior, I have been fortunate enough to be in the loft for the last four Senior Last Visits to the Basilica and Grotto. Each year on that Thursday evening before commencement weekend, I have heard these fateful words from Steve:
"Seniors, this will be the last time you will be in the loft with this choir. It's your last one, so make it count because you'll remember it for the rest of your lives You all know what you have to do. Remember no one and I mean no one comes into our house and pushes us around "
Okay, so maybe it's not quite like the final game in Rudy, but Steve does talk about the last time in the loft. It is a chilling reflection that sets the tone for all of us during that emotional evening. As most of the seniors sing their last solos from the loft, many tears are shed and shared on this night, culminating in our final song "Lead, Kindly Light" that leads the senior class out of the Basilica and to the Grotto. Meanwhile, in the loft, we wipe our tears, outstretch our arms to bless our seniors, and hug them goodbye as they leave the loft and join their class. A solemn silence remains in the loft. We look around at one another and take a collective sigh as we see our choir family broken apart.
Every now and then throughout this night of prayer, song, and reflection, a random flashback or hidden memory emerges to tug at my heart or force me to smile. I would review the year and the years previous and become filled with awe for how blessed and how grateful I am for being a part of this ministry. I can honestly say that I would not be who I am today without the support of my choir family, our ministry to the campus throughout the liturgical seasons, and our ministry to the many faces of Christ that we encounter throughout all of our travels.
We all have our own laundry list of folk choir memories, all those moments that have touched us and all those friends who have left handprints on our hearts. Although it was difficult for me to say goodbye to those friends I grew up with in choir, the Folk Choir Seniors of 2006, it was even tougher for me to come into my fifth year at Notre Dame and my fifth year of choir without them. For all you alumni, trust me when I tell you that you are not forgotten in this family. All of your memories, your quirky traditions, your laughter, your prayers, and your songs continue to this day through those left behind. We are still singing and praying your songs with full heart and voice to those we minister to.
It has been an honor for me to go through five generations of choir and witness the evolution of our choir as it changes, grows, and rebuilds year after year. But it gives me even greater appreciation and reverence for Steve and Michele, and for Karen and her growing family, who endure year after year through these periods of rebuilding, growth, and brokenness within our choir family. With their loving care and guidance, we, their children, learn to laugh and cry, to sing and minister, to worship and serve, to grow and mature, and to say our goodbyes. And after four years (and sometimes five) we leave them forever changed for the better as each one of us asks ourselves, How Can I Keep from Singing?
In Notre Dame,