Every Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in St. Joseph’s chapel, upwards of 80 BC students find themselves preaching to the choir. More specifically, this dedicated group is practicing its scales and arpeggios with the Liturgy Arts Group, BC’s student church choir.
The group sings regularly at St. Joseph’s Chapel, Trinity Chapel on Newton Campus, and Lannon Chapel at St. Ignatius Church under the guidance of campus ministers JoJo David and Meg Felice, and LAG director Meyer Chambers, a 17-year veteran of the program.
Emphasizing the spiritual fulfillment felt by many in the group, Meghan Leger, LAG president and MCAS ’17, and LAG vice president and LSOE ‘17 Claire Messina, spoke about the community that LAG fosters, and how it has helped to build its harmonious nature, both vocally and spiritually.
“Our members just feel so loved and cherished and that’s what keeps the club going,” Messina said. “It speaks to the club that there are no requirements but members still come back.”
Not even living off campus last year could deter Messina from making the 9 p.m. Mass at Saint Joe’s.
A weekly trip on the Comm. Ave. bus was a small burden to bear compared with the amount of joy singing at Mass brought her, she said. Leger, who has been a member since her freshman year, additionally conveyed LAG’s impact on its members as a whole.
“It’s a really strongly-knit community that gathers in faith but also in friendship.” Leger said. “It symbolizes a foundation for you to build your faith on during your BC experience. Whatever you give to LAG, we will give back to you 10 times harder. If you show any kind of interest we are going to welcome you and make you feel loved.”
Soyun Chang, a newcomer the group and MCAS ‘20, noted that her transition into LAG was especially inviting.
“It’s honestly like a family,” Chang said. “The people are so open and welcoming. There has been a lot of bonding time with this huge group of people all across grade levels.”
While singing in the University churches and helping the community through song in that way is an integral part of LAG, some of its most rewarding events have been the ones that occurred off campus, such as its annual trip to Massachusetts Correctional Institution-Framingham, the women’s prison, where they sing at Mass and then spend time talking to the prisoners. Other events include caroling in the winter and its annual Arts Fest concert in the spring.
In one recent standout event, LAG performed at the State House for an event sponsored by the Massachusetts 9/11 Fund, marking the 15th anniversary since the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Chambers’ wife works at Catholic Charities, an organization that worked with the Massachusetts 9/11 Fund following the attacks, and that relationship has continued.
The State House staff requested that the group sing “Lean On Me” to close the event after having listened to the group’s performance at the spring Arts Fest. If LAG had any anxiety about performing the song with little preparation at such a somber event, it didn’t show it.
Instead, it followed the sound advice of its director—sing from your heart.
“That song makes everyone feel good, and it is very reflective of what our group is,” Leger said. “The other performances were beautiful, sad, and reflective, and then we closed the whole event with ‘Lean On Me’ and changed the mood around.”
The emotional aspect of the event was very compelling and at times difficult for the whole choir to experience. Every student, whether he or she was in the United States at the time of the Sept. 11 attacks or not, was moved by the stories and the tangle of emotions etched across the faces of the families. Seeing such pain fueled the group with a need to help the families in the best way they knew how—through its salve of song.
“I didn’t know what to expect going into it,” Leger said. “There were a few times where I was just overcome with emotion, like when we were sitting in the balcony area overlooking the families below us. I found myself watching different families and seeing their [emotional responses] broke my heart.”
While Leger and Messina are melancholic at the thought of leaving LAG behind after graduation, they are excited to watch the group grow.
“You don’t realize how important what we do is until you have experienced it,” Messina added. “Not until you are standing and singing with the congregation and you see them and how it brings them joy.”
Featured Image Courtesy of Liturgy Arts Group