Music to help heal Sept. 11
Menasha choir makes CD for New York counseling
By Linda DeVries
A muscial production hopes to underscore the concern Menasha choir members feel for New York City.
In response to the tragic events of Sept. 11, people throughout the United States have asked, "What can we do?" to help the victims' families and others affected by the destruction of the World Trade Center towers in New York City.
The choir at St. Mary Parish in Menasha responded by doing what they do best: singing messages of comfort and hope. They recorded patriotic and inspirational songs and designated proceeds from the sale of the resulting compact discs and cassettes to support a counseling center near the WTC site. A priest working at that counseling center -- Fr. John Kamas, SSS -- once worked at the Menasha parish.
To make the recording, "God Be in Our Hearts, Be in Our Homes," choir members poured over their file of music and selected several patriotic songs, including "America the Beautiful" and "The Star Spangled Banner," as well as some more meditative numbers, such as the title track and "We Will Keep Our Faith."
"There's something about beautiful music," choir member Kathy Humski said. "It touches people's hearts."
The Menasha choir had been considering a recording for some time, according to Rollie Hebeler, who has served as organist and choir director at St. Mary's for 31 years.
"We made a Christmas tape about 10 years ago," he said, "and it was well received. This seemed like the right time to do another, a time when people especially need hope and comfort. I think the music will have broad-based appeal."
St. Mary's New York connection comes through Fr. Kamas, and Fr. Jim Hayes, both Blessed Sacrament Fathers who served at St. Mary's several years ago. The two now serve at Manhattan parishes: Fr. Hayes at St. James and Fr. Kamas at St. Andrew.
Fr. Hayes is a chaplain for the New York City Fire Department and was called to the World Trade Center Sept. 11. He barely made it out before the towers collapsed.
Fr. Kamas volunteers at a pastoral counseling center near Ground Zero. The crisis center was filled with debris after the attacks and had to temporarily move to another location, while it continued to offer counseling 24 hours a day to those who lost loved ones and to relief and rescue workers.
The Menasha choir will send proceeds from their musical recording to help restore the original counseling center -- and for any other needs designated by the Blessed Sacrament Fathers.
Recording the CD took three taping sessions. "We had such a good time, it was hard to be quiet enough for the recording sessions," Humski said. "Rollie makes choir so much fun! We're like a family, and we have all ages, high school students through retired folks. We're so excited about this project!
"However," she added, "we can't forget what happened on Sept. 11. So many people were impacted, and we can't let those people down."
The "God Be in Our Hearts, Be in Our Homes" CD sells for $12, the audiocassette for $9. To order a copy, call St. Mary's parish office at (920)725-7714.