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Music, ethnicity hallmark of Chautauqua gathering Oct. 8

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• Sister M. Agnes Gough, SHF
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placeholder September 19, 2011   •   VOL. 49, NO. 16   •   Oakland, CA

Girls from several ethnic communities dance to “Gentle Woman, Quiet Light” in honor of Mary during the meditation after Communion at last year’s Chautauqua.
José luis aguirre photo
Music, ethnicity hallmark of
Chautauqua gathering Oct. 8

Chautauqua XVII — Gathering of People — will be celebrated Oct. 8 at St. John Parish in San Lorenzo. This year’s event honors Our Lady of Fatima. Mass will be celebrated by Bishop Emeritus John Cummins.

Chautauqua XVII

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 8

Where: St. John Catholic Church, 264 E. Lewelling Blvd., San Lorenzo

What: Procession and Mass, followed by food and entertainment
Construction work on Lewelling Boulevard will limit the traditional procession of ethnic groups to the parish grounds this year.

Chautauqua events have drawn upward of 700 people in the recent past, and have been celebrated at various parishes throughout the diocese. Chautauqua was an adult education movement in the United States, popular in the late 1900s through the 1920s.

“The highlight is the working together of all the ethnic groups,” said Sister Felicia Sarati, who directs the ethnic pastoral and cultural centers.

There are Brazilian, Chinese, Eritrean, Kmhmù, Korean, Polish and Vietnamese pastoral centers. Communities include Asian Indian, Ethiopian, Fijian, Filipino, Indonesian, Kenyan, Nigerian, Portuguese and Tongan.

“Our diocese is rich in diversity,” Sister Felicia said, “and we need to celebrate it.”

She said ethnic priests from throughout the diocese will concelebrate the Mass with Bishop Cummins, who established the Ethnic and Cultural Pastoral Cetnters. The first Chautauqua East Bay gathering was in 1992.

For his first time as music director at Chautauqua, Ariel Mayormita will direct what he is calling the Unity Choir. “Everybody will be singing as one,” he said.

Noting that past Masses at Chautauqua have featured several choirs from the various ethnic missions, each having a time on the altar and moving off to make way for the next, he found that it could look “more like a performance and less like a music ministry.”

To this end, he has recruited choir members from the various churches and missions. In the busy month leading up to the event, he has been meeting with Nigerian, Spanish, Vietnamese and Filipino choirs.

“We will be learning the songs together,” he said. The Mass will include music from Jesse Manibusan’s multicultural “Misa del Mundo,” which includes songs in Spanish, English, Vietnamese, Indonesian, Chinese, Portuguese, Polish, Tongan, Chamoru and Tagalog.

The Unity Choir will also sing some of Mayormita’s own compositions.

“For each language, we will have a native singer to sing the verse,” he said. “Everyone will join in the refrain in English, our uniting language.”

Mayormita is calling on the talents of the St. Joachim string ensemble, under the leadership of Gigi Dandan, Joe Ayroso on bass guitar and drummer Peter Salas. Mayormita said he hopes the Kenyan and Nigerian drummers will participate in the Mass.

“We are going to have a piano, and I will have a cantor, Helena Dietrich from St. John’s,” he said.

Mayormita, a member of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, said unity is often a topic of conversation among music ministers. “We always talk about how to work together without losing our identity,” he said. “I think music is the best medium to do that.”

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