by Kara Hansen
LEAVENWORTH — The Sisters of Charity in Leavenworth are wrapping up their yearlong 150th jubilee celebration with a bang. A bang of piano keys, that is. The 150th jubilee celebration was held July 4- 6 at the Sisters of Charity motherhouse in Leavenworth. The event, organized around the jubilee theme of “From Founding to Future,” was attended by over 400 invited guests, including Sisters, associates, family, and friends. Weekend activities included prayer, Mass, an arts and crafts exhibit, and several presentations.
But certainly one of the most entertaining highlights of the weekend was a Piano Extravaganza Monster Concert, which featured 15 Sisters performing a medley of songs on eight different pianos. Their renditions of everything from classical music to show tunes were met with a rousing response.
“Music is an important part of our heritage and traditions,” said community director Sister Sue Miller. “When the first Sisters arrived in Leavenworth on Nov. 11, 1858, they brought a harp with them. That harp remains in our Heritage Room at the motherhouse, and music has resounded through our 150 years.”
Sister Peg Johnson, Sister Gloria Solomon and Sister Dominique Long coordinated the piano extravaganza, which lasted for 90 minutes and ended in a standing ovation. Each of the 15 Sisters who participated was assigned music in advance to practice and then rehearsed together for two days prior to the weekend. At least four of the Sisters played together on each piece of music, with all 15 together playing “Stars and Stripes Forever.”
“It was a heck of a lot of work and even more fun,” said Sister Peg. “Finding a way to celebrate music in community is really important to us. Music has always permeated our life as a community — we always have wonderful music when we come together for liturgies and just for fun.”
Songs were also composed specifically for the celebration and featured in prayer services throughout the weekend. Sister Gloria Solomon composed “From Founding to Future,” while Sister Dominique Long wrote “Lights of the City.” They collaborated together on “Dancing, Jubilee!” Another highlight of the piano extravaganza was Sister Bonnie Bochle’s dance routine to “Singing in the Rain.”
“Sister Bonnie was trained in dance and this was something she always wanted to do,” said Sister Peg. “It really brought the audience to their feet.” The Sisters had also commissioned liturgical composer Bob Hurd of OCP Publications to write another song for their 150th jubilee.
“The Spirit of the Lord” was sung throughout the celebration weekend, which concluded with Mass on July 6. “It was a great time of reconnecting and seeing friends come together — from those who were vowed for awhile and left, to friends, to those who are still in community here. It was wonderful and very affirming,” said Sister Peg.