Tribute to Mary in Midlands coincides with papal ceremony



LEXINGTON — In January, Dr. Charles Renick, director of Music Ministry at Corpus Christi Church, decided he wanted to do something special for Mary in this jubilee year. At that time, he could not have anticipated how “A Tribute to Mary in the Life of Christ,” the jubilee concert performed on Oct. 7, would come together and deeply touch all who attended.

“Jesus came down and orchestrated an awe-inspiring tribute to his Mother Mary through the efforts of Dr. Renick and everyone who participated in the jubilee event,” said Vicky Reese, Corpus Christi Legion of Mary member.

Bishop Robert J. Baker led the rosary. Each decade provided the inspiration for the scriptural readings, presented by Father Chris Danel, and musical selections performed by area talent from Lexington and Columbia. For example, before the recitation of the second joyful mystery, the Visitation, “The Magnificat” by Schiavonne was sung tenderly by Lisa Riley, a soprano from St. Joseph Church in Columbia.

Another talent from St. Joseph’s, tenor M. Carl Mayers, poured out his soul in Schubert’s “Ave Maria” and Chavez-Melo’s “Como Estrella.” Cathlene Skrocki, cantor for Corpus Christi Church, gave a flawless performance of Bach/Gounod’s “Ave Maria” while choir member Alexander Brown sang with profound humility, “I Sing a Maid of Tender Years,” a piece arranged by Renick.

In addition, the Corpus Christi choir sang some traditional favorites such as “Ave Verum Corpus” by Mozart and “Regina Caeli Laetare.” Another highlight of the evening was the duet performed by Ruth Ann Allawos and Jill Hnat, whose soprano voices perfectly blended in Weber’s “Pie Jesu.”

Besides the singers, there were 15 talented musicians, some from the Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra, others from area churches. They utilized the excellent acoustics in the church to sound like a much larger orchestra. Teresa Riley, music director at St. Joseph’s, was the assisting cantor who also played the organ and hand bells. All the participants helped to create a prayerful environment whether in music or vocal prayer.

Renick had first thought to have a tribute to Mary but decided the Feast of the Holy Rosary might be more appropriate since the music would be performed within the recitation of the rosary with Scripture readings. He wanted to make the concert an opportunity for people of other faiths to be educated on the rosary through art, Scripture and music. He did not find out until a couple of weeks before the concert that Pope John Paul II would also be leading a rosary that same day in Rome with a similar format. Some commented that such a coincidence confirmed that the concert was divinely inspired.

Bill Price, director of Pastoral Care at Lexington Memorial Hospital, found the music exceptional but also learned something from the experience. “Not being a Catholic myself and unfamiliar with the rosary, I felt this concert was a good way to be exposed to the Catholic Church’s relationship with Mary,” he said.

The concert did not only appeal to one’s sense of hearing but also sight. Numerous Renaissance and Florentine style artwork was displayed in the vestibule. The most memorable piece was the 18th century oil painting of Madonna and Child, part of Mrs. Rankin Craig’s private art collection.

Because of its great success, the diocese can look forward to an annual tribute to Mary on the feast of the Holy Rosary. Nothing could make Renick happier since it was Catholic music, especially the beloved Marian hymns that attracted him to the Catholic Church many years ago.

At the end of the tribute, Bishop Baker officially entrusted the Diocese of Charleston to Mary Most Holy. “An entrustment acknowledges our need for help from God and is a plea for Mary’s intercession for that aid,” defines Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.

“We entrust the diocese to Mary Most Holy, to her maternal care and protection, as she leads us on our millennium journey closer to the Lord,” said Bishop Baker.

The bishop also announced that he was joining with Pope John Paul II, who would be entrusting the world to the Blessed Virgin Mary the next day in Rome.

Bishop Baker was able to expound upon Marian devotion in his homily during the Mass preceding the jubilee event, where he quoted from the Holy Father’s homily on Sept. 24 at the closing of the International Mariological-Marian Congress and the World Jubilee of Marian Shrines.

“The Holy Father spoke of the qualities that deep love and honor for Mary should take on, to be authentic …” said the bishop.