Detroit archdiocese chorus seeks help with Vatican trip

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

The Archdiocese of Detroit's official chorus is asking the public to help raise $30,000 so its 40 volunteer members can sing for Pope Francis next year.

The Archdiocesan Chorus was invited last month to sing at Mass with the pope in St. Peter's Basilica on Jan. 6, 2016, the Feast of the Epiphany. It is encouraging Metro Detroiters to contribute through crowd-sourcing on for musician scholarships or even accompany their pilgrimage to the Vatican.

The eight-day pilgrimage is Jan. 4-11. The early-booking cost is $3,800, including travel, four-star accommodations and a $200 contribution toward chorus travel expenses, archdiocese officials said.

"We are thrilled at the opportunity to sing for the Holy Father. Since Pope Francis isn't planning to come to Detroit this year, we will bring Detroit to Pope Francis," Joe Balistreri, the archdiocese music director who conducts the chorus, said in a statement Monday.

"We really see this trip as an opportunity to represent not just our choir or even just the Archdiocese, but all of Southeast Michigan. We'd like people to celebrate with us, to enjoy sacred music with us, to support us and to even come with us. This will be an inspiring and life-changing experience."

Since 1975, the group has served as the official chorus at archdiocese major liturgical events. Concerts are hosted each year at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in Detroit. The chorus has also traveled to Europe for special events, according to the archdiocese.

Since many chorus members are college students or music ministers at Metro Detroit churches, they need extra money to accept the invitation, the archdiocese said.

"Since this is an all-volunteer group — and especially since many of the singers can't afford transportation to and lodging in Rome — we need help to make sure the whole chorus can go," Balistreri said.

Meanwhile, the chorus plans to sing during a Mass Mob event at 10 a.m. June 7 in St. Matthew Church, 6021 Whittier Ave., Detroit. The group also is having a "Foretaste of Rome" spaghetti dinner and silent auction there starting at 7 p.m. June 13. The event features a Roman-themed dinner for $50-per-plate, music and a pasta sauce competition, the archdiocese said.

For more information and to hear samples: