by Marc and Julie Anderson
TOPEKA — Abby Werth is only 11 years old, but she knows the secret to really awesome music.
The secret? It’s all about the love. People who love great music make great music for other people to love.
“I just love to sing,” said Abby, a member of Topeka’s Most Pure Heart of Mary Parish Schola Cantorum. “We’ve never sung a song I didn’t like.”
Already, her music tastes are quite refined. Abby’s favorite pieces are in Latin.
“They just seem sweeter,” she said.
But Abby isn’t the only songbird in the Werth family. In fact, the entire family is involved with the schola: parents George and Kathy, plus sisters 13-year-old Annie and 15-year-old Mattie.
“[The choir] helps us to grow in our relationship with Christ through song,” said Annie. “You can praise God a lot through music.”
And music helps them better appreciate the Mass.
“I’ve come to understand how beautiful liturgical music is, was and is supposed to be,” said Maggie. “I want to share it with others.”
Right now the Schola Cantorum is gearing up for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to share its music in a very special way.
The children’s choir of the Schola Cantorum has been invited to sing on the solemnity of the Epiphany — Jan. 6, 2016 — at a papal Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. There, the Topeka children will join the Sistine Chapel Choir and children’s choirs from around the world.
But it isn’t going to happen unless they raise some money.
A chef trained in Italian cooking has agreed to provide fundraising banquets and dinners. The first was on Oct. 10, and the second will be on Feb. 14, 2015. Also, the Schola Cantorum has producing a Christmas music CD that is now available for purchase.
The schola is also accepting donations and seeking sponsorships for its members.
Naturally, the prospect of going to Rome has excited Schola Cantorum members.
“I’ll get to see the pope, sing with the choir and be at St. Peter’s Basilica,” said Abby. “It’s amazing. I’ve read about St. Peter and the different popes, and then I’ll get to see Pope Francis in person!”
The Schola Cantorum, founded by choirmaster Lucas Tappan in the fall of 2011, is a ministry of Most Pure Heart of Mary Parish and its school. Tappan is also director of liturgy and music at the parish.
Although established as a liturgical music program for young people, it combined with the parish adult choral program in 2013. Currently, the ministry has more than 40 children and 30 adults in two choirs. The ministry also began an organist training program in spring 2013.