The Rev. Msgr. Michael Billian, left, pastor of Most Blessed Sacrament Church, sings with David Herring. The choir, along with St. Rose Parish, is to perform at the Vatican next Christmastime.
The day after Christmas is almost 11 months away, but two area church choirs are planning for it now.
On Dec. 26, the singers from Most Blessed Sacrament and St. Rose parishes leave for a nine-day choir pilgrimage to Italy highlighted on New Year’s Day in St. Peter’s Basilica, when they join in a Papal Mass with the Sistine Chapel Choir. New Year’s Day is extra-special on the Catholic calendar; it is a holy day of obligation known as the Solemnity of Mary, honoring her motherhood of Christ.
On New Year’s Eve, the combined choirs are scheduled to perform for Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square at the blessing of the Vatican creche. On Dec. 30, they are to sing during Mass in the basilica.
“It will be memorable,” said Robert Rae, music director at Blessed Sacrament in West Toledo.
Both choirs are raising funds to help with the the tour’s cost, which is more than $3,500 a person. They are selling recordings of their music and are holding events.
On Saturday, Blessed Sacrament held an Italian-themed dinner, called Buon Appetito, in the parish’s Stoiber-Holzer Gym. It also has held a sale of garden and home art from Carruth Studio and, last fall, a concert fund-raiser.
This month, St. Rose of Perrysburg will hold a raffle for a dozen roses and a $60 gift card on a yet-to-be decided date. “We have to do some catch-up,” said Charlotte Mariasy, director of music and liturgy. “They [Blessed Sacrament] had a big concert in the fall, but we’re not done yet.”
To date, Blessed Sacrament has raised about $9,000, not including proceeds from Saturday’s dinner, and St. Rose about $5,000. Each parish hopes to take 40 choir members and others on the tour, although “the trip is open to anyone who wants to come with us,” Mr. Rae said.
Ms. Mariasy said she plans a “preview tour” of Rome later this month to help lay the groundwork for the December trip, which includes visits to Florence and Assisi.
One detail that hasn’t been worked out is the musical program. Ms. Mariasy gives a hint, though: “Remember, it’s going to be Christmastime.”