The Catholic University of America

Dec. 9, 2008

CUA and Basilica Charity Concert Raises $12,000 for Little Sisters of the Poor

From left, Very Rev. David M. O'Connell, C.M., CUA president; Sister Benedict Armstrong, superior of the Little Sisters of the Poor; and Monsignor Walter R. Rossi, rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

The 20th annual Christmas Concert for Charity, presented Dec. 5 by the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and The Catholic University of America, raised $12,000 for the Little Sisters of the Poor who care for the elderly at the Jeanne Jugan Residence in Northeast Washington, D.C.

A time-honored tradition at the Basilica, the event drew a standing-room-only audience and featured performances by the CUA Chorus and Symphony Orchestra and the Choir of the Basilica.

CUA's musicians were led by Leo Nestor, Justine Bayard Ward Professor of Music, and David Searle, director of orchestral activities and conducting studies. The Choir of the Basilica was directed by Peter Latona, director of music at the Basilica.

The Choir of the Basilica opened the concert with the strains of "Welcome Yule" by 20th-century American composer Edwin Fissinger. Their voices filled the Great Upper Church, where red poinsettias lined the steps leading to the altar. Members of the Little Sisters of the Poor as well as Jeanne Jugan residents attended the two-hour concert.

"The Little Sisters of the Poor and the Jeanne Jugan Residence are honored to be the recipients of the freewill collection from this year's Catholic University Christmas Concert," said Mother Benedict de la Passion, superior of the Jeanne Jugan Residence on Harewood Road.

CUA musicians perform at the concert.
"This generous gift will help to pay our winter heating bills so that we can keep our 104 elderly residents warm and comfortable during what is expected to be an especially cold winter. We find comfort in the knowledge that God continues to provide everything we need through the kindness of the surrounding community."

Prior to the concert, the university held its annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony in the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center. The event featured Christmas carols, readings and prayers.

EWTN will broadcast the concert on its cable station at 11 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 23, and at 2 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 25.

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The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is the largest Catholic church in the western hemisphere and the eighth largest church in the world. Completed in 1959, its more than 65 chapels and oratories represent the many ethnic devotions U.S. Catholics have to the Blessed Virgin. Pope John Paul II elevated the Shrine to the distinction of Basilica in 1990.

The Catholic University of America is unique as the national university of the Catholic Church and the only higher education institution founded by the U.S. bishops. Established in 1887 as a papally chartered graduate and research center, the university began offering undergraduate education in 1904. Committed to being a comprehensive Catholic and American institution of higher learning, Catholic University has about 6,700 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in 12 schools, all of which offer graduate degrees and/or professional degrees.

MEDIA: For more information or for photos of the concert, contact Katie Lee or Mary McCarthy in the Office of Public Affairs at 202-319-5600.