Cathedral Girls Chorus readies for Poland

CHARLESTON — The Girls Chorus at the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist are preparing to leave for Poland to sing at the International Congress of Pueri Cantores in Krakow.

Pueri Cantores is the official Catholic organization of youth choirs with hundreds of member-choirs in Europe. The Cathedral chorus was one of the first choirs to be invited to join from the United States.

The group leaves for Krakow on July 10 for the ten-day tour. They will sing concerts at the Basilica of Divine Mercy in Krakow, and at St. Matthias and St. Stephen churches in Budapest.

“The girls are ready and we’re all excited about going,” said Mark Thomas, music director. “This should be a great spiritual and musical tour and pilgrimage.”

Under Thomas’ direction, the choir has made a name for itself locally performing at Spoleto Festival and internationally. In December 2005, the group performed in Rome, at Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore before a crowd of thousands, and in the first New Year’s Day Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI at St. Peter’s Basilica in 2006.

While in Poland, the girls will practice and perform, and they will also have time to immerse themselves in the hospitality and culture of their host country.

The performance schedule includes the inauguration ceremony of the 34th International Congress of Pueri Cantores in Market Square, Mass at the Basilica of Divine Mercy in Krakow and in gala concerts in 50 churches in Krakow and surrounding cities.

In addition, they will give a concert at St. Catherine’s Church in Krakow; at the Monastery of Jasna Gora in Czestochowa and at St. Stephen in Budapest.

The girls will tour Warsaw, Wadowice, the birthplace of Pope John Paul II and the site of the Church of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary, where he was baptized.

In Czestochowa at the Monastery of Jasna Gora, they will see the Basilica of the Holy Cross and the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, home of the Black Madonna. They will also visit Auschwitz.