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Annual Ecumenical Christmas Concert at Shrine is a Tradition

The almost life-size Nativity scene is just to the right of the alter at St. Ferdinand Shrine during Christmas.

by Nichole Richardson

Many people came out to the St. Ferdinand Shrine Sunday night to celebrate and rejoice in the Christmas season together. The Shrine wrapped up an entire day of Florissant Christmas festivities which included Mrs. Clause at the Gittemeier House and Taille de Noyer on McCluer’s campus earlier in the afternoon, and ended with the annual Christmas concert and a first time novena.

The annual Christmas concert began at  5  p.m and ended at roughly 6:15 Choirs from the Academy of the Sacred Heart, the Sacred Heart Church Organ Choir, Florissant Valley Baptist Church, St. Sabina Catholic Church, Florissant Presbyterian Church, and The Passage all combined to put on quiet a stunning show this year.

Many beautiful Christmas songs were sung, including classics such as Joy to the World and O Come, O Come Emmanuel. Six years ago Florissant Valley Baptist Church was invited to sing at the Shrine and they invited St. Sabina to come on board in 2010.  Florissant Presbyterian Church was added this year. Since The Passage has no choir at their church, they were asked to join as well.

Florissant Valley Baptist Church Director Tammy Stevenson was very happy with the turnout and the collaborations. She explained that such an event would not have been possible without one another and that having the choir of 50 made it much easier to meet goals and attempt more challenging music.

“We really wanted to work together to honor God and get to know each other better,” said Stevenson, “To break down barriers between the denominations and let our common faith allow us to bring gifts of music to one another.”

You didn’t have to be part of the choirs to fully appreciate the music though. Connie Ciaramitaro has volunteered the past four years at the St. Ferdinand Shrine and was very moved by the concert as well. “It was very well attended. The church was overflowing,” said Ciaramitaro, “It really was stunning. Just beautiful. They did an excellent job.”

After the concert refreshments were served in the old schoolhouse next door until the Novena began at 7. Doug Riser, president of Friends of Old St. Ferdinand, was excited about the Shrine holding its first novena to St. Rose Philippine Duchesne. The prayer vigil  runs until Dec. 23.

Although a typical novena is usually nine days of prayer, this one is shortened due to the holiday. The novena includes daily scripture reading and meditation with each day focusing on one of the virtues of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne.


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