Sacred Heart Major Seminary puts on Christmas concert to show ‘God is with us’

Choir members sing during Sacred Heart Major Seminary's annual Christmas concert Dec. 6 at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament. The concert, in honor of Sacred Heart's 100th anniversary, featured six different Detroit-area Catholic choirs. (Photos by Tim Fuller | Special to Detroit Catholic)

Six Detroit-area Catholic choirs combine voices to form a 'a prayer to God' during Advent season 

DETROIT — Sacred Heart Major Seminary got audience members in the Christmas spirit with its annual Christmas concert on Dec. 6.

The near-capacity crowd crammed into the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament, the first time the Christmas concert was at the cathedral.

“Today is a wonderful time in Advent to prepare our hearts and minds,” said Msgr. Todd Lajiness, rector of Sacred Heart Major Seminary. “This evening is not just about vocals and music, but it’s a prayer, it’s all a prayer to God.”

A variety of Christmas and Advent selections were performed by the Sacred Heart Major Seminary Spanish Choir, directed by Rubi Martinez-Bernat; the Cathedral Choir Academy of Detroit, directed by Susan Lindquist; the Sacred Heart Major Seminary Alumni Presbyteral Choir, directed by Dr. Ronald Prowse; the Sacred Heart Major Seminary Choir, directed by Stephanie Nofar-Kelly; the Black Catholic Ministries Gospel Choir, directed by John Thorne; and the Archdiocesan Chorus of Detroit, directed by Joe Balistreri.

Dr. Ronald Prowse directs the combined choirs for a Christmas Medley performance Dec. 6 at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament.

In addition to celebrating the Advent season, the night marked another chance to celebrate Sacred Heart’s 100th anniversary, Msgr. Lajiness said.

“One hundred years ago, the Diocese of Detroit opened the doors of a seminary dedicated to the Sacred Heart,” Msgr. Lajiness said. “Now, the Lord calls again to lead men in formation. But we don’t make this journey without the Lord, without acknowledging it is Jesus, the Good Shepherd, at the helm.”

Prowse, who stepped down last year as the music director at Sacred Heart but has stayed on as an associate professor at the seminary, conducted the combined choirs in a Christmas Medley where the audience was invited to join in renditions of “Silent Night,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” “The First Noel,” and “Joy to the World.”

Members of the Black Catholic Ministries Gospel Choir sing during the concert.

“My favorite part is the people being here and supporting the choirs,” Prowse told Detroit Catholic. “The feeling you get of coming together. I think music plays a very important role in the way of uniting people, bringing people together and healing. When you have people coming together to sing, they might be from all different walks of life and have different opinions, but when we sing together, it’s a powerful force of healing and uniting.”

Prowse said Sacred Heart has hosted a Christmas concert for as long as he can remember, adding music has always been a integral part of celebrating the season.

“There isn’t a season in our faith where music doesn’t play an important part,” Prowse said. “But in Advent, we recognized hymns like ‘Come, O Come Emmanuel,’ and it gives a person a certain sense of where we are in the liturgical year. It’s music putting our faith in perspective, an outlet of expressing God is with us.”