Maryknoll's annual Christmas concert tonight drew a record, overflow crowd of 600+ people. The chapel starting filling fully one hour before the 8:00 "curtain". With Standing Room Only crowds in the back of the chapel, Mario Cerdas and Theresa Rodrigueez, from housekeeping, sprang into action and set up extra chairs in the back, in the center aisle and even in the sanctuary.
The Christmas Concert was the official musical opening of Maryknoll's Centennary celebrations. The return of long-time Maryknoll music director Ms. Lucille Naughton (she directed the choir when I was ordained in 1978) was surely the reason behind this record-breaking crowd. Kudos to Security and Physical Plant that dealt with parking and traffic issues. Br. Tony Lopez also assembled a hospitality crew to hand out programs and carol booklets.
Songs included "Non nobis, Domine" (from the movie Henry V), "Veni, Veni Emmanuel" "Do You Hear What I Hear?" and "Gesu Bambino."
Maryknollers were acknowledged and then all joined in singing the Maryknoll hymn. A children's Choir supplied the "Aw!" factor with "Little Drummer Boy", "Silent Night" and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas". There was time for audience participation with traditional favorites such as "O Come All Ye Faithful" "Joy to the World" and "Angels We Have Heard On High".
Lucille also previewed three songs from the Maryknoll Centenary Missa ad Gentes, by Michael Joncas: "Lord, Have Mercy" ,"Gospel Acclamation" and "Lamb of God". She also invited those present to attend the special rehearsal of the entire Mass, with timpani, trumpet, flute, piano and organ, on Sunday, January 23 at 3:00 p.m. (We might have to set up the Spellman Room and Lady Chapel if the crowd is anything like tonight's!)
One departure from tradition. The choir and assembly sang "Happy Birthday" to Maryknoll to end the concert and adjourned to the Spellman Room for birthday cake, coffee and tea. Santa's helper (Fr. Joe La Mar) passed out candy to children of all ages.
Our Centennary is off to a great start!