Friday, May 22, 2015


On our first full day of liturgical work, the choir headed inland from Melbourne, about two hours' drive, to the diocesan seat of Ballarat.  It's a quaint city, built up in the 1850's from a gold rush much like the one that took place in our own state of California.

And it's also heavily influenced by Irish immigrants – the Cathedral is named (surprise) after Saint Patrick.

Sovereign Hill was our first stop:  a recreation of the mining and gold rush days of the nineteen century.  The choir had a chance to take a stagecoach ride, pan for gold, avoid fist fights with the character actors, and warm themselves by the fire pits that dotted the dirt streets of the town.  We are constantly reminded by the temperature that Australia is heading into winter!  The temperature upon arrival was in the 40's.

Australian Catholic University has a campus here, too, and so visiting this small outpost of our sponsoring institution was also a goal.  It's a small campus – still without even a chapel, though that will change in the next year.

Finally, after lunch (lamb sandwiches!), we headed to St. Patrick's for an afternoon of liturgical workshops, repertoire sharing, and a chance to work with area musicians and religious education coordinators.  It was a tough day to visit this cathedral city – a royal commission was investigating scandals from years past, under a former episcopal leader, and the press were out in droves (in fact, the cathedral was closed for a short time because the press were conducting interviews).

At the end of the day, we celebrated Vespers with the local bishop, Most Rev. Paul Bird (and himself a Notre Dame grad!).  A lovely, prayerful, gentleman, and someone who enjoyed our students' presence.  The cathedral was filled with great song that evening, even in the midst of the clamor surrounding the day – and that was a comfort to many.

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