[CUA Office of Public Affairs]


                                                                                    Nov. 27, 2001


CUA and National Shrine to Sponsor Annual Christmas Concert

Proceeds Will Benefit Washington, D.C., Homeless Women’s Organization


Musical groups from The Catholic University of America and the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception will come together to perform the annual charity Christmas concert at the Great Upper Church of the Basilica, Friday, Dec. 7, at 8 p.m. Donations will benefit New Endeavors by Women, a Washington, D.C., organization that seeks to help homeless women become self-sufficient through skill training and self-esteem building programs.

The concert features the CUA Chorus, conducted by Leo Nestor; the CUA Symphony Orchestra, with music directed and conducted by Piotr Gajewski; and the Choir of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, directed by Peter Latona.

In addition to performances of holiday favorites, the concert program includes musical works from Johann Sebastian Bach and a premiere from Leo Nestor, variations on the 18th-century French carol, “Whence is This Goodly Fragrance?” 

The concert will close with a “fanfare” of three traditional Christmas carols: Joy to the World, Hark the Herald Angels Sing and O Come, All Ye Faithful.


In the spirit of the holiday season, a freewill offering during the concert, which is free and open to the public, will go to a local charitable organization. This year’s beneficiary, New Endeavors by Women, operates on the belief that “individual attention is key” in helping homeless women, said Sister Mary Mulholland, the organization’s director. NEW not only provides women with a safe place to live, but also offers them job training, employment counseling and life skills management. Since 1988, a mostly volunteer staff and generous donations have helped 1,100 women, 80 percent of whom have moved on to lead successful, independent lives.


Up to 38 women can stay at the shelter at any given time, each contributing to daily tasks such as cooking and cleaning. While there, they work with case managers to develop strategies for becoming self-sufficient, receive assistance in coordinating job training, attend daily support groups and look for affordable housing.


“I’m humbled by their stories,” Mulholland says of the women at the shelter. “What they have in common is their great trust in God’s presence and support and care for them. They feel so blessed to be able to be alive each day and know that God is going to help them today and move on to tomorrow.”


Mulholland said she hopes to use the proceeds from the concert to replace items at the shelter such as mattresses and furniture. “We’d like to make it not only a safe place but a comfortable place,” she said.


Before the concert, Catholic University will sponsor a tree lighting ceremony in front of McMahon Hall at 5:15 p.m.


The Catholic University of America is unique as the national university of the Catholic Church and the only university established by the U.S. Catholic bishops. The Washington D.C.-based university offers 60 doctoral, 97 master's and 92 bachelor’s programs in its 10 schools and Metropolitan College. Private and co-educational, the university was established in 1887 as a graduate and research center and began offering undergraduate education in 1904.


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 of U.S. Catholics have to the Blessed Virgin. Pope John Paul II elevated the National Shrine to the distinction of Basilica in 1990.


For more information about the concert, call the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music at 202-319-4000 or the National Shrine at 202-281-0615.




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Revised: March 27, 2001

All contents copyright © 2001.
The Catholic University of America,
Office of Public Affairs.