St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish now has enough funds to welcome its refugee family later this month thanks to a benefit concert, featuring St. Michael’s Choir School from Toronto.
With more than 650 tickets sold, the April 6 benefit at Loyola High School drew a full house. After expenses, the event raised more than $15,000, of which $13,000 goes toward the fundraising efforts for two refugee families. St. Ignatius has now raised $32,000, the estimated amount needed to support the Beirouty family during their first year in Canada. St. Veronica Parish, together with Resurrection of Our Lord, has raised a similar amount for the Syrian family they are jointly sponsoring.
The choir also received $3,200 to help fund their April 4-11 tour, which featured stops in Montreal, Arnprior and Ottawa.
For the Loyola concert, the 100-voice boys choir featured pieces pulled from their extensive repertoire of sacred music, including Maurice Duruflé's Our Father and a Kenyan classic Wana Baraka. Two strong piano solos were delivered by students Joey Aviado and Ian Cheong. The concert closed with the Loyola Choir, led by director Marthe Lacasse, joining the stage for a group performance of Frideric Handel's famous Messiah's Hallelujah chorus.
The concert was the second of the tour's four, including a performance at St. Joseph's Oratory the previous day with the Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal.
St. Michael's Choir Director, Stephen Handrigan, was pleased with the large turnout at Loyola and the engaged audience, in addition to working with the two parishes and the school.
"Marthe Lacasse was so warm and welcoming, and it was a pleasure for our boys to sing with the Loyola choir," recalled Handrigan, "... and a very special thank you to Dany Holland for coordinating the entire event."
Holland, the event co-chair and a St. Ignatius warden, was deeply touched by the avid spirit of both the audience and collaborators. "We wanted it to be a celebration, something to take pride in as a community, and to create awareness of the needs of refugees," she said during a telephone interview after the event.
Support poured in from local businesses and faith communities, she recalled. A team of volunteers, led by Ignatius parishioner Kathy Machnik and Joan Foster of the Montreal West United Church, provided 100 well-stocked bagged lunches for the boys following morning rehearsal. Siobhan Babkin, co-chair of the event, organized dinner for 140 students prior to the 7 p.m. concert. Volunteers served both the St. Michael and Loyola choirs a combo-meal of pizza and pasta, provided at cost by a local pizzeria and Italian restaurant.
These were among the eight sponsors and seven local organizations who were donors for the event. Both parish refugee committees acknowledged their generous contribution in the program insert.
Handrigan expressed his interest in possible future projects for this cause: "The service of sacred music is at the heart of our mission here at St. Michael's Choir School, and we were delighted to be able to help with the fundraising efforts of both parishes for the refugee crisis. This benefit is exactly the kind of event we seek to support, and we hope to continue supporting the refugee crisis through future concerts."