One of the many activities of the Daughters of St. Paul during the Advent Season revolves around the Christmas Concert Tour. We still carry out our ministry of evangelization through the media in our Book and Media Centers throughout the country and the world as well as doing book exhibits at parishes and schools. This gives people the opportunity to think about giving religious gifts to their friends and loved ones at Christmas.
The concerts, however, have a special place in our hearts. The sisters whose voices resound on our audio recordings get together after Thanksgiving and prepare to bring the love and joy of Jesus Christ to as many as possible through the ministry of music.
The first concert was in Staten Island, NY, 23 years ago, given as a fundraiser but the concerts have grown from that seed. This year the #singingnunstour visits not only New York and New Jersey, but Boston, Cleveland, St. Louis, New Orleans, and Los Angeles. The Staten Island concert is known as the “official beginning” of the Christmas season on Staten Island and is always covered by the local newspaper. Click here for the article on this year’s concert from the Staten Island Advance.
Each concert brings together traditional religious Christmas songs with some of the fun ones from our culture but always around some theme. You see, there are concerts and then, there are Daughters of St. Paul concerts. This year’s theme is “Love Among Us” which gives the choir sisters the opportunity to speak to the concert audience about the love that God continually shows us in the gift of His Son, Jesus. Our provincial superior, Sr. Donna Giaimo (a member of the choir although not in the concerts this year because of her other duties), was present at the Staten Island concert. She said, “As part of this year's audience, I can attest to how powerful is the witness our sisters give to Jesus and his love. We continue to pray for each and every person who attends, that each one will be touched by the message of God's love become incarnate for us.”
When introducing various songs, the sisters take turns giving inspiration to the audience. Sr. Tracey Dugas, a Louisiana native, is the comedian, telling funny stories of some of her experiences ministering in the New Orleans book center. Sr. Helena Burns, originally from Boston but currently stationed in Toronto, introduced a more serious song letting people know that the holiday season is one of joy but can also be sad for those who feel their loneliness more acutely during the holidays. Sr. Julia Darrenkamp, from Amish county in Pennsylvania, talked about how Our Blessed Mother was instrumental in her conversion to Catholicism when she was a teenager and promoted a book about Mary, which she illustrated. About her love of music, Sr. Julia says, “Music is God’s gift, the only art of Heaven given to earth, the only art of earth we take to Heaven.”
The choir sisters attest to the power of music to move the hearts of people. Sr. Fay Pele, from the island of Samoa, tells of an encounter she had with a book center patron in Honolulu. There was a song playing on the center’s audio system called, “You Raise Me Up.” She noticed the woman began to cry as she listened. The woman told her, “You don’t know the peace and love I’m experiencing right now hearing this song. I just lost my Mom two weeks ago and hearing this song has given me such peace.”
This is the kind of peace, love, and joy the sisters strive to bring to all who attend the Christmas concerts. A 5th grader who witnessed the concert in Boston told Sr. Nancy Usselmann that “you were way better than the Rockettes” who she had seen the night before! Most concerts you hear about are sung by famous people to audiences of thousands. Their attendees may have a really good time. The Daughters of St. Paul may sing to smaller houses but the difference is this: the sisters don’t mind if people don’t remember their names. They only want audiences to encounter Jesus Christ and the forgiveness, salvation, joy, love, and peace He offers to each and every person.
For information about our St. Louis concerts on December 6th and 7th, click here.
For information about our New Orleans concerts on December 10th and 11th, click here.
For information about our Los Angeles concerts on December 15th and 16th, click here.