Elementary Schools Information Guide
Leo Keegan on Carnival of the Animals
On Oct. 30, the Cathedral of Christ the Light will host students in the fourth- through sixth-grades in a performance of Camille Saint-Saëns' "Carnival of the Animals" by organist John Karl Hirten. Poetry about the animals will be read by Sonya Simril, principal at St. Leo Catholic School in Oakland, and Leo Keegan, the cathedral's director of docents and ministerial services. The concert, at 10:30 a.m., is free. Students are welcome to stay for the 12:10 p.m. Mass, which will be celebrated by Rev. Ray Sacca, rector of the cathedral, with the choir from All Saints School in Hayward providing the music. Register by Oct. 22 at www.ctlcathedral.org/visit/
The Catholic Voice asked Leo Keegan about the performance.
What's so appealing about presenting "Carnival of the Animals"?
We are looking to do annual events for the Department of Catholic Schools to bring the schoolchildren to the cathedral not only for a tour but for a liturgical event, and feature a performance. We started with "Peter and the Wolf," and it was geared for the elementary grades and now we're introducing Camille Saint-Saëns' "Carnival of the Animals," with Ogden Nash poetry read by Sonya Simril, the principal at St. Leo's, and myself. We're featuring fourth grade through sixth grade. The hope would be eventually we would have something for seventh and eighth grade, so we'd have an event at the cathedral around liturgy and performance which would become part of the field trips for the Catholic schoolchildren as a way of embracing this as their cathedral.
Why is it important to bring school children into the cathedral?
Two generations of our Catholic youth had no experience of the mother church. St. Francis de Sales was not only known locally as a place of liturgical renewal and social action, but it was known nationally and featured in Time magazine. It's been my goal as an ambassador of the cathedral to bring everyone — like the name of the cathedral, based on the document Lumen Gentium (Light of the Nations), to bring all people of all nationalities and all faiths to come and celebrate what it means of be Catholic, what it means to be a Christian in this great architectural space here on the north end of Lake Merritt.
What questions do children ask about the cathedral?
As we all know, there was a certain level of controversy over the building of the cathedral and the cost of the cathedral. For the traditional Catholic coming into this cathedral, they say it doesn't look like a cathedral, it doesn't feel like a Catholic Church. My question to that is: What does a Catholic Church look like or what does a Catholic Church feel like? To a sixth-grader who walks into the cathedral, it feels fresh, it feels new, it is bright. It feels contemporary. So to me it feels like a church that has a future that I would want to be a part of, as opposed to something that looks ancient and old and unfriendly, and doesn't have a vision for the future.
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