[CUA Office of Public Affairs]           

                                                                                                            Nov. 19, 2003


CUA and National Shrine to Sponsor 15th Annual Charity Concert

Proceeds Will Benefit St. Ann’s Infant and Maternity Home in Hyattsville, Md.


The 15th Annual Christmas Concert for Charity will be held at the National Shrine.

Choral singers and instrumentalists from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and The Catholic University of America will come together to perform the 15th Annual Christmas Concert for Charity at the Great Upper Church of the Basilica, Friday, Dec. 5 at 8 p.m.  Donations will benefit St. Ann’s Infant and Maternity Home, a Hyattsville, Md., residential childcare home that has provided for needy infants, children and young mothers since 1860.


The concert, which is free and open to the public, features performances by the CUA Chorus and Symphony Orchestra, conducted respectively by Leo Nestor and Kate Tamarkin, and by the Basilica Choir, directed by Peter Latona.  Works will include selections by Palestrina, Handel, Respighi, Adam, Brubaker and Pinkham, in addition to traditional Christmas carols.  The Shrine is located at 400 Michigan Ave., N.E., Washington, D.C.


As has been the case during the preceding 14 years, a collection will be taken up during the concert to support a local charitable organization.  Previous concerts have benefited the Jeanne Jugan Residence for the elderly poor, New Endeavors for Women, and So Others May Eat, among other local charities.


The concert traditionally attracts a standing-room-only audience.

This year’s beneficiary, St. Ann's Infant and Maternity Home, provides a home for, on average, 50 infants and children suffering from abuse or neglect, and 20 pregnant or new mothers, many of whom are striving to overcome histories of domestic violence, physical abuse, poverty and severe educational delays.  The home also provides 24-hour emergency placement for children in crisis. In 2002 St. Ann’s served more than 330 children and 95 young mothers with young children.


Operated by the Daughters of Charity, St. Ann’s does not just provide housing for young mothers and children with no place to go, says Sister Josephine Murphy, D.C., who has served as administrator of St. Ann’s since 1988.


“Our goal is to provide each child and young mother with a loving, comfortable and reassuring environment.  We try to offer them some kind of stability, and a sense that someone truly cares about and values them,” she says.  “They’ve been abused and mistreated by people who should have been taking good care of them.  Many of our young mothers have had their childhood taken away, and have lost their basic sense of dignity and self worth – we’re trying to give that back to them.”


The home’s patron saint – St. Ann, mother of the Virgin Mary – is a popular figure among the children who go to stay there.  “They think of her as Jesus’ grandmother,” Sister Murphy says.  “They like having a grandmother in their lives.”


St. Ann’s is the only agency in the greater Washington D.C. area that will accept young pregnant girls in need who don’t receive some kind of government agency assistance.  The

home receives referrals from government agencies throughout the metropolitan area, and provides young pregnant and parenting mothers with on-site comprehensive services including mental health counseling, 24-hour nursing services, job counseling, life skills and parenting classes, drug and alcohol counseling and daycare.  Prenatal care is provided to these mothers by Providence Hospital – also operated by the Daughters of Charity.  Young mothers also are able to continue their education at the on-site accredited high school.

The Very Rev. David M. O’Connell, C.M., CUA president (right) with Sister Josephine Murphy, D.C., administrator of St. Ann’s, and Monsignor Michael Bransfield, rector of the National Shrine.


“When they’re here, our goal is to have them finish high school,” Sister Murphy says.  “I believe that education is the only way out of poverty.”


St. Ann’s and Catholic University have an ongoing relationship; approximately 45 CUA students volunteer at St. Ann’s, rotating their visits on a weekly basis to tutor and play with children and feed and hold infants.  They also organize frequent clothing and toy drives, and invite the children from St. Ann’s to campus for group visits.  Graduate nursing and social work students from CUA also pay frequent visits to the home, for supervised field experience working with children.


“We’re able to do what we do because of the generous support of so many volunteers and donors who are deeply committed to improving the lives of children.” Sister Murphy says.  “They have our heartfelt thanks and we pray God will bless them for all their efforts on our behalf.”


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.


NOTE TO MEDIA: To arrange coverage of the concert or receive more information, please contact Peter Sonski at 202-281-0615 (National Shrine) or Chris Harrison at 202-319-5600 (Catholic University).


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


The Catholic University of America, an institution of higher learning in Washington, D.C., is unique as the national university of the Catholic Church in America. Founded in 1887 and chartered by Congress, the university opened as a graduate and research institution. Undergraduate programs were introduced in 1904. Today the private and coeducational campus has approximately 5,500 undergraduate and graduate students from all states and 90 countries enrolled in 11 schools of theology and religious studies, canon law, philosophy, law, arts and sciences, engineering, social service, nursing, music, library and information science, and architecture and planning. 






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Revised: 12/5/2003

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