- Associated Press - Saturday, December 26, 2015

HOUMA, La. (AP) - Vandebilt Catholic High School’s choir is headed to Rome to perform for the pope on New Year’s Day as part of the 40th International Congress of Pueri Cantores.

The Courier reports (https://bit.ly/1MAwG7D ) 127 choirs are expected to sing and Vandebilt’s choir was the only one selected from Louisiana. Of Vandebilt’s 80 choir members, 38 are going to Rome along with their families.

“This could possibly be a once-in-a-lifetime chance and so some people are making a family event out of it,” choir director Sara Todd said. “Who knows if they’ll ever get to go back?”

Most of the choir left Saturday, but some have been in Rome since the start of the holiday break. They’re scheduled to return Jan. 2.

On New Year’s Day, they will sing parts of the Mass before the pope. For the Mass, they had to learn 32 songs, including “Alleluia” and “Pueri Cantores.” They also will sing some Christmas carols at the Family Christmas Concert.

This isn’t the first trip the choir has taken, but it is the first out of the country for many students.Todd has been planning the trip for about a year and a half, and the students studied the music for about two months.

The opportunity came after Todd received an invitation from Pueri Cantores, the national student choral organization of the Catholic Church in the United States.

“Most of our trips are non-performing because you never know how many kids will be able to go and you don’t want to end up on a trip without enough people on each voice part or instrumental part to make a balanced group,” Todd said.

Choir members plan also to visit the Colosseum, the Spanish Steps, the Roman Forum, the Trevi Fountain, St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel.

They said they’re not looking forward to the long flight but are excited for the opportunity to sing for the pope and tour Rome.

“The experience itself is pretty amazing because you’re going to one of the centers of the world, where the history there is pretty rich,” Jacob McManus said. “It’ll just be amazing to be in the presence of someone like that.”

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Information from: The Courier, https://www.houmatoday.com


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