Chorale Mission: Fostoria Surprise

As an alumna of the Cardinal Chorale, I used to lament the idea of a final concert with the young

men and women who shared the stage with me. How sad it was, to be parting ways for the last

time. No more goosebump-inducing crescendos, no more road trips, no more fond looks from

across the risers. Now? I laugh at the word “last” and brush it off my shoulders the moment it has

been spoken.

Cardinal Chorale alumni from any year from 2009 to 2015 joined together for another “last”

concert earlier this week. Called by our fine leaders and enabled by Mrs. Vicki Sulken, we came

from hours in every direction to the gentle, sprawling town of Fostoria. Knights of the Round

Table meeting once again, we gathered in the parking lot of St. Wendelin Church as Mass

convened inside.

Warm voices drifted out the windows and into the hallways. As we sneaked through the front

doors and down the stairs, most of the congregation continued on as usual. Little did they know,

we were soon to add our own voices to that cheerful serenade. For 5 years, this church hosted our

singers during our annual Chorale tour and it has expressed such generosity during those years

that no degree of thanks would match the gift.

Father Weibl, pastor of this church and its vaulted ceilings and smiling members, was to

celebrate his last Mass on that day before beginning what we hope to be a long and relaxing

retirement. When we were given the news less than a month prior, we sprang on the opportunity

to share our thanks with the community. Certainly, we could not miss the chance to honor Father

Weibl, our patron of hospitality and a 2014 recipient of the Chorale’s Medal of Distinction.

Back down to the basement we went. Chad Putka led the warm-up in the absence of CRS, and

his grin was confirmation of the reunion’s success. As we calibrated our voices and our spirits,

an aura of excitement drifted throughout the room. The old magic came back quickly, as did

even the voices which had not made music for many days or weeks or months. Many of the

singers who had gathered together had never made music together before. But, in a way, we had

all shared the same song and were made into a family by that shared experience.

Soon after our rehearsal, the mass concluded and we took the stage. Tears fell onto damp cheeks

as “This Is My Father’s World” and “Song of Farewell” filled the echoing expanse of the room. I

can only hope that Father Weibl felt the gratitude floating on every note. Nothing could be more

sincere.

For a moment, it was almost as though we had been transported back to the time of awkwardly

fitting uniforms and long bus rides. But, just as soon as it had started, that moment was over. As

we parted ways with our fellow Chorale members and thanked the good people of St. Wendelin

for their kindness, we couldn’t help but notice Father Weibl standing by the exit to the hall,

enfolded by an innumerable succession of hugs. That is a man who has made an impact. How

wonderful it was to share the day with someone who has brought so much joy to so many.

– Hannah Kelling, 2011-12, 2012-13

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