Catholic Free Press

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African choir evangelizes in song

Posted By December 22, 2016 | 5:03 pm | Featured Article #4
Performing a dance, from left, are Pauline Nyandwi, Natasha Abdalla and Jeanine Harushingingo.
 Photo by Tanya Connor | CFP
Performing a dance, from left, are Pauline Nyandwi, Natasha Abdalla and Jeanine Harushingingo. Photo by Tanya Connor | CFP

By Tanya Connor | The Catholic Free Press

WEST BOYLSTON – Evangelization was the focus as a Catholic choir launched its first CD recently.
St. Andrew’s African Choir Ministry recorded the music CD, titled “The Gift of Love,” (Zawadi ya Upendo in Swahili). The 16 choir members from various countries sing for African Masses at 11:30 a.m. Sundays at St. Andrew the Apostle Church, 5 Spaulding St., Worcester, a mission of St. Peter Parish.
After dinner at The Manor restaurant, Bishop McManus unveiled an enlarged replica of the CD, signed it and offered a blessing.
Helping with the unveiling were choir member Allan Waigera and Father Eric K. Asante, chaplain of the African Ministry in the diocese and administrator of Prince of Peace Parish in Princeton.
“The Good News is that we have a place in heaven, and our mission is to get there,” Bishop McManus said. “I hope this CD will be an instrument of evangelization. … I’ve been so impressed by the contributions of the African community. God bless you and all the good work you’re going to be doing.”
Among planned “good work” is the making of a video of choir members singing and dancing, as they did Saturday, Mary Kiarie, choir coordinator, told The Catholic Free Press.
And at 1 p.m. today they are to sing Christmas carols at the Massachusetts State House, in the presence of Gov. Charlie Baker. Miss Kiarie said Paul Miggliozi, who gives tours there, arranged for that after hearing them sing at a St. Vincent de Paul fundraiser in Fitchburg last year. Last month they sang at the Lunenburg Music Festival at St. Boniface Parish.
They also evangelize through the CD jacket, which explains in English the messages of the songs, sung in other languages.
“Jesus loves us, come to him and be saved – He is our friend and savior,” says one summary.
“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me and I in him,” says another. “He has eternal life and I will raise him up on the last day.”
A message on africanchoir.org, the group’s website, invites viewers to “spread the Gospel with us by supporting our cause, or by joining our choir.”

Bishop McManus applauds after unveiling the replica of the CD with help from Father Eric K. Asante. Photo by Tanya Connor

Bishop McManus applauds after unveiling the replica of the CD with help from Father Eric K. Asante.
Photo by Tanya Connor

They recorded the CD  between November 2015 and September 2016.
At the launching Saturday, specially chosen people were invited to announce how much they would pay to buy the CD.  Figures included $500 and $250. It was also available for the regular price of $20.
The CD is available to download from amazon.com or  iTunes. The prices vary based on whether you purchase the entire CD or individual songs. The CD will be available for purchase at St. Andrew’s on Saturdays from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and Sundays from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Miss Kiarie said more than 360 people attended the $50-per-plate dinner. The choir plans to use proceeds from the launch to help pay for the video, buy musical instruments and support their parish.
Saturday Miss Kiarie encouraged those present to sing – or at least make a “joyful noise.” She said they were celebrating “faith in God, love for one another and hope in eternal life.”
Pope Francis has said to relax and listen to music, she said, adding that they take him very seriously.
She then introduced the hymn “Tantum Ergo.” Choir members in deep purple robes, cloaked in white, appeared, and sang solemnly with folded hands.
Other musical selections of the evening were lively, as choir members in vibrantly colored native dress danced, singing and smiling.
During a skit actors raced into the room and dove onto the floor as a person with a toy gun attacked them. Next came people with medical equipment and a white box with a red cross, who tended to their “wounds.” The message was that love is needed to stop hatred, Miss Kiarie said.