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Seminary concert remembers deceased, benefits future


South Region Bishop John A. Dooher leads the audience in singing at St. John's Seminary's All Souls' Memorial Concert, Nov. 16. Pilot photo/Christopher S. Pineo

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BRIGHTON -- A man in black strummed and picked his guitar for a full house last Saturday night, but it wasn't your typical Brighton art-house concert.

South Region Bishop John A. Dooher headlined the All Souls' Memorial Concert, Nov. 16, at St. John's Seminary with every seat in the chapel filled -- and extra chairs brought in to accommodate the crowd.

He said the concert upholds Church tradition and gives people a chance to thank God with songs dedicated to the faithful departed.

"For a bunch of Catholics we sing pretty well now, better than we did perhaps years and years ago," Bishop Dooher told The Pilot.

The seminary holds the concert to remember the souls of the departed, a Catholic tradition in November, and benefit the Master of Arts in Ministry Scholarship Fund.

Among the performances for the evening were Latin hymns by the Haitian Children's Choir of Immaculate Conception Parish in Everett, a guitar solo from Anthony Truong, a piano and violin duo by Miriam Marston and Stephen Poirier, songs from St. Peter's Lithuanian Ensemble in Boston, and the voices of the Sacred Heart Children's Choir of Weymouth.

Bishop Dooher asked guests to participate as he strummed his guitar to close the performances that evening.

"After they have listened so well to everybody else, I ask them, now we are going to sing together. So, my role is to get them to sing," he said.

With adults and children performing in choirs, guests heard musical pieces ranging from Michael Joncas' "Gaude Virgo" performed by St. Mary's Adult Choir of Hanover, to the patriotic pop song "God Bless the USA" sung by the Neighborhood Children's Theatre with members from St. Ann Parish and Blessed Mother Teresa Parish.

Eighth-grader Caeley Holland sang with the Sacred Heart Children's Choir of Weymouth and said this was her last time performing with the choir at the annual concert.

"Overall it was one of the best concerts, and I am going to really miss it next year when I go to high school," she said.

Ed Miller, a parishioner of Our Lady of Grace in Colchester, traveled to Boston from Vermont and said the bishop's performance particularly impressed him.

"That was pretty spectacular. He has got quite a voice," he said.

The vice rector of the seminary and president of the Theological Institute of the New Evangelization Father Christopher O'Connor said the performances beautifully reflected the tradition of remembering the dead in November.

"It is wonderful in this month of November to gather our alumni, our friends, and to come together to thank Christ for the gift of the resurrection, to pray for our deceased loved ones, and to ask for the merciful God to welcome them into the gates of paradise," he said.

Those remembered included deceased seminary faculty and staff, victims of the Marathon bombing, Bishop John D'Arcy who passed away in February, and others whose friends and family requested remembrance for their loved ones.

Organizers said the event had almost 300 in attendance and raised almost $15,000 to support the scholarship fund.

The program thanked donators and said that some students can only attend the lay persons master's program because of the support they receive through the scholarship fund.

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