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Introductory Rites
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There was such joy in the room as we met each other through music. When it finally came time for the mass, we all moved to the church. The organ was in the back of the church, so we all set up there. Their director told me that the priest preferred if we did our special singing before the mass that we were going to do as a concert afterwards.

So we managed to sing 3 songs before the mass began.


After each one the congregation applauded whole heartedly. We sang Pescador de Hombres combined for Preparation of the Gifts and Arriba los Corazones as the sending forth and the people loved it. I also noticed that this church had had a big renovation since the last time we were there - as had most of of the churches, because Pope Francis was there in January of this year!

It was nice to see these churches at their best. After the mass, the Polyphonic Choir and our choir met again in the rehearsal room for a small reception. We shared with each other what a beautiful mass it was and how nice it was to come together in this way. I told them they were welcome in Chicago anytime and that whenever I sang Pescador de Hombres again, I'd always remember our combined version of it sung this night.

They gave us a bag that they had all signed with well wishes and their names. Inside it were small Panamanian delights: coffee, a banana fruit jam bar, pineapple marmalade, chocolate, candies, and a bottle of Abuelo! They also sent me via email a number of their songs. Another truly special moment came towards the end of the reception when one of the tenors came up to me and said that he was the organist at La Merced. He asked how long we were staying and if we'd like to do a mass and concert there.

We had another church lined up, but they weren't confirmed until just the day before and I wasn't sure they really wanted us to come. I didn't have a good vibe when we went to the church on the preview tour, either, because no one would meet with us. For these reasons, when he asked if we'd come to La Merced I jumped at the chance.

I felt honored to be asked to sing in this historic church.

I announced the revised plan on the bus to the choir and we all cheered. Just after I announced that the bus pulled away and the Polyphonic Choir of Panama members were all outside waving at us - we waved back with big smiles on our faces! What a special night, and for me, the highlight of the whole trip. Olga was a big help here and at Don Bosco church, where she translated a number of things for me to the clergy and Panamanian choir members. Day 5: This was another amazing day. The weather throughout the trip was 90 and gorgeous, but it was never overbearing.

This was the day we got to go out on the Gatun Lake the middle and highest part of the Panama Canal in our little boats right alongside the huge ocean liners.

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We enjoyed seeing the wildlife: monkeys and we loved feeding them bananas , fish, crocodiles, sloths, birds, turtles, lizards, and others. The lunch location offered a perfect view of the lake and it was a delicious massive buffet. More fresh fish, yum! That night we sang for a mass and a full length concert at La Merced! It was the only night I got to play a pipe organ on the tour.

It was in decent condition. I also loved finding out that the pope had been to this church when he was here. We there about 10 minutes before the Holy Hour was to begin so we only had a short time to acclimate to the church. The choir did a great job and then we had a free hour.

The organist of the church took me and a couple others on a private tour of the church museum. We got to see a lovely miniature diorama of Christ's Infancy Narratives among other historic artifacts to the church. This mass was poorly attended as well as the concert, but we sang our hearts out for those who were there.

Also, for the concert, we came to the front of the church and I simply used a small digital piano with no damper pedal. I tried my best to make lemonade out of lemons.


Day 6: Off to the Sheraton Bijao Resort. It had seen better days, but I prepped the tour participants and they all thought that it wasn't as bad as I made it out to be. That first view of the ocean from the lobby was enough to make everyone on the tour feel like they were in Paradise. Day 7: This was our El Valle Day. Off with Kevin to see a rustic zoo, another short waterfall hike, lunch, and an even more rustic "Thermal Springs" place where some of us put some healing clay on our faces.


While my wife and I put on the clay and then swam, our boys found a little playground. Triana, the lunch location's food was out of this world. They have the best chicken that I've ever tasted in a lunch buffet they offered us. I totally overate. This was a fun day up the mountain with breath taking views down to the ocean. Day 8: We relaxed in the morning and afternoon and ended the day with a special prayer service as this was my last tour as the St.

Gregory the Great Parish Choir director.

Download PDF Pescador de Hombres (Assembly Edition)

The room was lovely and they had covered the chairs with soft white coverings that made us all feel a little extra special and placed them in a circle. I created a centerpiece out of a couple chairs turned on their backs and covered them with sea shells that our boys had caught on the beach. The scallop shell is the symbol of pilgrimage, so I found that to be a perfect fit.

We sang a good number of our songs, prayed, shared our experiences, and shed some tears. It was a special end to an extraordinary tour. Later that night, Olga was talking with one of the worker girls who was asking her how her experience had been at the resort. She brought the young girl to talk to me and get my feedback. My aunt heard you guys and was raving about you!!! It is yet another God-incidence. The aunt later made a bunch of candies and sent them with her niece to give to our group!

Day 9: Kevin and his family gave our family a ride one day early to get to the airport. I was supposed to get back for a Chicago Symphony Orchestra rehearsal, but the orchestra had gone on strike so the rehearsal was canceled! They're still on strike. Needless to say that I was bummed to have to leave Paradise one day early. However, I heard that on Day the day the choir was to leave, their flight was delayed by 3 hours.

That meant they arrived back in Chicago around 3 AM whereas we arrived at midnight. I guess Panama didn't want us to go, either. Thank you, Angela and Peter, for all the steps you took to ensure that we'd have a spiritually renewing, physically challenging, and mentally stimulating journey on this eye-opening cultural experience which we all now cherish!!!

The friendships kindled on this trip will last a lifetime. The churches were so unique and interesting. S, he told me that there's a theological mistake on this. Fernando, while there is hope with what you have written, the really lamentable part is that a publishing company like OCP here in the United States still believes that music should be "vibrant, culturally diverse and enthusiastic".

These buzzwords can be translated into hip and trendy, whatever is of the moment. The musical styles are sorely lacking anything of the sacred. There are only a scant, handful of chants. The settings of the Ordinary are also really bad, as they are set to secularized-sounding music than anything that resembles sacred. Maybe with the pending Papal visit, you might see a little more progress made along the lines of sacred music. Thanked by 1 CHGiffen. Thanks for your comments Fernando and benedictgal Fernando that's a really important point you bring up: what's needed is a whole shift on mentality, from thinking that the liturgy is our work to realizing that the liturgy is God's work.

I think it's primarily a challenge of proper liturgical and musical education, for the clergy, for ourselves, and for the people.