By Tommy Smeltzer
On Wednesday, December 5, one hundred Chaminade middle school students donned formal attire, boarded buses in the pouring rain and delivered the joyful sounds of Christmas to an audience of retired nuns who live at the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet center on the campus of Mount Saint Mary’s University. The C-Notes performed this year’s Christmas concert entitled Tidings of Comfort and Joy for scores of sisters gathered in the chapel, singing a variety of sacred and secular pieces in Latin, Swahili, and English. Many of the nuns who were unable to be moved watched the concert on closed-circuit TV in their rooms.
The concert is an annual tradition going back four years but has roots in a Chaminade relationship that dates back much further. Years ago, middle school music and choral director Kathy Rohrs led a string ensemble that would play various events. She tells us, “We had a special Sister of Carondelet that worked at Chaminade for many years named Sr. Noreen Arnold. The Chaminade “String Affair” would go and do concerts each Christmas for Sr. Noreen and all the elderly Sisters of Carondelet. It was our way of bringing joy to others and sharing our God-given talents.” She goes on to say that, “Sadly, Sr. Noreen Arnold passed away in 2011 from cancer. The String Affair group would continue to do concerts for the sisters until they went on to college to study music and film.”
The C-Notes concerts are a continuation of this tradition, performing in the beautiful Carondelet Center Chapel. Among the attendees at this year’s event were 105-year-old Sister Anne Gertrude Fitzgerald and her “little sister”103-year-old Sister Constance. At the end of concert Sister Regina Clare Salazar took to the mic to thank the students, “When we look at these young people from Chaminade middle school, we are honored and overcome with all that has gone into this production – your staging, your presence, your attention, everything about you is classic, and we are very, very proud of you and very grateful to Sister Noreen Patrice…that you could be with us.”
“I am so proud of Mrs. Rohrs and the 100 C-Notes members who braved the rain and cold to bring some Christmas joy to the nuns,” said middle school principal, Mike Valentine” It is inspiring to me to know that we have so many educators and students who are willing to give of themselves for others.”
Sister Sharon Margaret Ninteman, CSJ Community Life Coordinator, thanked the C-Notes for sharing their talents and bringing comfort and joy to the sisters. “They look forward to it every year and continue to talk about it the rest of the week,” says Sr. Ninteman. “The students, under Kathy’s direction, provided an excellent performance …and are a real testimony to the values you teach at Chaminade…to God’s glory!”