The date was January 2nd, 2014, and my wife Michele and I were just a day out from beginning our Florida tour with the Notre Dame Folk Choir. Somehow, we had escaped the clutches of Polar Vortex #1 and had made it to Orlando, almost on time.
We were there to provide music for the North American Academy of Liturgists. And afterwards, we were approached by someone I hadn't seen in years – Clare Johnson, whom I assisted on occasion as she taught courses in Theology, on her way to her PhD at Our Lady's University.
Clare had some wonderful things to say about the Folk Choir. And then she threw the curve ball: Would the ensemble be interested in visiting her country?
DO NOT scroll to the bottom of this blog! Read on!
Then, Clare said that her Vice President for Mission Engagement would be rolling through the frozen tundra of Northern Indiana in about three weeks. Could he make a visit to the 11:45AM Sunday liturgy? Could he have some time to talk about the choir's itineraries?
All the while, in the back of my head, I was thinking – "how could we ever pull off this kind of trip?"
Two and a half weeks later, her colleague, Fr. Anthony Casamento, appeared as promised for our Sunday Basilica liturgy. Michele and I met him afterwards, and we all went out to a local eatery for lunch.
Sitting across the table, Fr. Anthony explained that the coming year was an important one for his institution: 2015 rings in the twenty-five year anniversary for the university, and they were hoping to celebrate it in a special way. And then he popped the question: "Would the Folk Choir be interested in making this journey?"
We had originally thought that 2015 was going to see a trip to Colorado and Alaska for the ensemble. We had begun to make a few enquiries – nothing binding, but just testing the waters. And now, this.
So I reached across the table, shook his hand, and said to Father Casamento:
"Father, the Folk Choir would be honored to be a part of your silver anniversary year. I guess we're going...
.... to Australia!"
Steven C. Warner
Office of Campus Ministry
307 Coleman-Morse Ctr.
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame IN 46556