Parish comes full circle as it transforms once again into a center for the arts

During this 125th year of our parish jubilee, Utica native Leonarda Priore has offered to collaborate with us by connecting local talent with artists and musicians from New York City whom she has known through her work as president of Chelsea Opera.

Throughout this year, we will offer a series of concerts and presentations in our parish buildings in association with Chelsea Opera.

One of our collaborations with Chelsea Opera will be the presentation of a short opera titled, “Bon Appétit,” by Lee Hoiby.

The dates for these intimate performances in the Salerno Room will be on the Friday and Saturday evenings that precede Father’s Day — June 18 and 19.

The opera is a delightful piece based on an episode from Julia Child’s cooking show. The evening will offer other local talent.

We will keep you informed of plans for our parish concert series as the year continues.

Since Father William Pizzoglio’s pastorate in the 1940s, our parish always has been known as a center for the arts. He was a published composer of sacred music and the very first pastor of any local church to incorporate orchestra musicians in special Eucharistic celebrations and church milestones.

Under his pastorate, he hired Helen Ehlinger as our director of music. Helen was one of the most accomplished organists of her time and an anomaly for Catholic musicians during that period of history.

Father Pizzoglio also began the Mount Carmel Dramatic Players Guild and sponsored passion plays in our church basement auditorium.

That heritage continues in our music ministry today.

We look forward to having that stage provide us once again with an artistic space for collaborations with Leonarda and Chelsea Opera. Since Father Pizzoglio, our church, its architecture and our openness have influenced many local composers, artists and musicians to the spirituality that emanates from the arts.

Our present pastor, Father Jim, is a gifted painter and musician. His artistry often adorns our sanctuary through beautiful banners and his original oil paintings have been prizes for our parish raffles and viewed in awe by parishioners who visit the rectory. Father Jim is a talented priest whose artistic heart graces every homily with memorable images that mark the important moments of our lives.

We hope that during this Easter season, as we begin to find new life together in the image of the Risen Christ, that our efforts to renew our parish church as a center for the arts. We pray that these efforts will be blessed and supported by our parishioners, agencies and businesses, and by local people who are hungry to fill their souls with beauty and inspiration.

We will inaugurate all these great directions on Good Shepherd Sunday this year with the debut recording of a sacred song that Leonarda has given as a gift to our parish, “We Shall Behold Him.” We will play this inspiring hymn after communion at each of the Masses on the weekend of April 24 and 25. Lee’s warm voice will once again bring us blessing and connect us with God’s love in deep ways.

We also will be presenting a concert at 3 p.m. on Pentecost Sunday, May 23, in our church that will feature a spirited fusion of the arts.

We are excited about the many possibilities God has seen to provide us through these endeavors and we know that our efforts will be welcomed and honored. We humbly hope to lift your spirits and to bring harmony and beauty into all our lives.