Calm After the Storm

OCT. 27-NOV. 2, 2005
Calm After the Storm
By Luke Eggleston/ SUN staff writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
St. James Church on the south side of Syracuse will be the scene of a special musical presentation to benefit the victims of Hurricane Katrina Friday, Nov. 11 at 7 p.m.

The program is the brainchild of St. James Folk Choir members Sheila Austin and Jerry Smith. The idea had been germinating for some time when Austin received an e-mail from the National Association of Pastoral Ministers (NPM) encouraging its membership to find ways to raise funds for the victims of the hurricane and offering certain suggestions.

Among the suggestions were direct donations or perhaps a benefit concert. The NPM, of which Austin is an active member, is acting as a clearinghouse for emergency relief being sent to the devastated Gulf Region. Austin and Smith spent the next month or so mulling over their options when the inspiration struck them while attending the popular Journey of Faith event in September.

Approximately 500 or so people attended Journey of Faith as musicians and singers of all stripe performed. The event was anchored around keynote speaker Jim Krisher and was sponsored by the Diocese’s Religious Education Office. During the happening several musicians lamented the fact that an event of the Journey of Faith’s scale only came around every so often. Then it hit them. “I turned to Sheila and I said, ‘This is it, This is what we do,’” Smith said. Among other things, the pair had previously considered bake sales or breakfasts as means of raising funds for Hurricane Katrina’s victims.

“Jerry and I just looked at each other and said, ‘If we could get these people together then we’d have a great fundraiser,’” she said. Guitarists Sean Clive and John Tobias, who were among the musicians at the Journey of Faith event, agreed on the spot to perform at the St. James benefit. Austin’s piano teacher tuned her in to another local performer, Lisa Notar, who, while not Catholic, works in Christian music and has an ecumenical view. “She was on board right away,” Austin said.

Smith said that while Tobias looks to involve the whole congregation in his performances, both Clive and Notar offer a more meditative, inspirational style of Christian music. The event will also offer a performance by the Music Ministries of St. James Church and, as of last week, the Hospice Harmony Singers were considering participating. The Hospice Harmony Singers are a group of sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis. Member Sister Colette Walters, OSF, described the group as offering a variety of songs in the religious and folk genres, all of which are upbeat.

“We want to show people in the diocese what kind of gifts people in the diocese have to offer,” Smith said. The organizers had considered drawing from St. James’ own parishioners, but decided otherwise at the Journey of Faith event. “We want to expose the people at St. James to new sounds,” Smith said, adding that the organizers hope the event will draw in families and will appeal to parishioners of all ages.

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