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The Little School That Could View Comments
By By Maureen Pratt

At IHM Elementary School in Los Angeles, Arvi Cova sings out as the choir prepares for July's World Choir Games.

ONLY A FEW BLOCKS away from Immaculate Heart of Mary School, traffic on one of Los Angeles’ most traveled freeways stirs up a constant, metallic hum. The side streets are noisy, too, as cars dodge or hit potholes and each other in the never-ending “music” of urban life. Yet, on a crisp, winter day, another gentler neighborhood sound is taking shape, a sound that calls to mind beauty and angels, not honking and the squealing of tires.

“Luuuu ... Laaaaaa.”

The tones are crystal clear and fresh, like a gentle spring breeze through tree branches.

Tucked inside the school’s auditorium, the boys and girls of IHM Children’s Choir prepare for competition at the World Choir Games, to be held in Cincinnati from July 4 to 14. The World Choir Games, dubbed the “Olympics of choral music,” bring together amateur choirs from countries throughout the world, includ ing Europe, eastern Europe, South Africa, North America and the Caribbean. It will be on American soil this year for the first time ever (see The Unifying Power of Music).

Choirs competing at the Games often have extensive performance experience, and many are regulars at the international level. But, for the group of 35 second- through eighth-grade children at Immaculate Heart of Mary School, the Games will be a first; they have never competed at any level. In fact, they are the only U.S. Catholic elementary school choir registered for the 2012 competition. It’s an unlikely opportunity for an inner-city Catholic school in Los Angeles to take the world stage.

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Maureen Pratt writes the syndicated column “Living Well” for Catholic News Service and is the author of six books, including Peace in the Storm: Meditations on Chronic Pain & Illness. Her website is maureenpratt.com.

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Katharine Drexel: If your father is an international banker and you ride in a private railroad car, you are not likely to be drawn into a life of voluntary poverty. But if your mother opens your home to the poor three days each week and your father spends half an hour each evening in prayer, it is not impossible that you will devote your life to the poor and give away millions of dollars. Katharine Drexel did that. 
<p>She was born in Philadelphia in 1858. She had an excellent education and traveled widely. As a rich girl, she had a grand debut into society. But when she nursed her stepmother through a three-year terminal illness, she saw that all the Drexel money could not buy safety from pain or death, and her life took a profound turn. </p><p>She had always been interested in the plight of the Indians, having been appalled by what she read in Helen Hunt Jackson’s <i>A Century of Dishonor</i>. While on a European tour, she met Pope Leo XIII and asked him to send more missionaries to Wyoming for her friend Bishop James O’Connor. The pope replied, “Why don’t you become a missionary?” His answer shocked her into considering new possibilities. </p><p>Back home, Katharine visited the Dakotas, met the Sioux leader Red Cloud and began her systematic aid to Indian missions. </p><p>She could easily have married. But after much discussion with Bishop O’Connor, she wrote in 1889, “The feast of St. Joseph brought me the grace to give the remainder of my life to the Indians and the Colored.” Newspaper headlines screamed “Gives Up Seven Million!” </p><p>After three and a half years of training, she and her first band of nuns (Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored) opened a boarding school in Santa Fe. A string of foundations followed. By 1942 she had a system of black Catholic schools in 13 states, plus 40 mission centers and 23 rural schools. Segregationists harassed her work, even burning a school in Pennsylvania. In all, she established 50 missions for Indians in 16 states. </p><p>Two saints met when Katharine was advised by Mother Cabrini about the “politics” of getting her Order’s Rule approved in Rome. Her crowning achievement was the founding of Xavier University in New Orleans, the first Catholic university in the United States for African Americans. </p><p>At 77, she suffered a heart attack and was forced to retire. Apparently her life was over. But now came almost 20 years of quiet, intense prayer from a small room overlooking the sanctuary. Small notebooks and slips of paper record her various prayers, ceaseless aspirations and meditation. She died at 96 and was canonized in 2000.</p> American Catholic Blog Our task during these forty days is to examine our lives in light of God’s Word and see where we’ve allowed darkness to creep in, where we’ve taken the bait of the diabolical fisher of men. It’s time to use the sword of the Spirit to cut through his web of deception, to free ourselves from the net that holds us as prey.


 
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