PARAGUAY, Andrea Blasco •
I’ve received one of the greatest blessings a person can ask for. I found a place where people can abandon their inconveniences, their conflicts, and their problems, and learn to entrust themselves fully and completely to Mother Mary’s hands. Somewhere where they can be themselves for Jesus Christ. A time they can offer their whole heart so that God may bless others.
The Joy of Schoenstatt
During the summer of 2017 I received an advertisement that invited everyone interested to participate in an audition to enter the Choir “Alegría” of Schoenstatt – the Joy of Schoenstatt. There were no age restrictions for the audition, and professional experience in music was not required. My sister and I had been thinking about trying something new for a long time, so with our mother’s support we decided to attend the audition.
Our first rehearsal was very important for me. I’ve never taken part on anything similar. We started with approximately eighty people. Our directors, Joaquín Santiviago and Alejandra Almada, introduced themselves, sorted us out according to our voice type, and started to vocalize. The first song that we learned was called “Abran las Puertas a Cristo”, which invites us to open our hearts to receive Jesus´s love, and to be a ray of sunlight in the lives of everyone around us.
One of the qualities that I love the most about our choir is that it is formed by people who do not have a lot of experience in performing and making music. With the preparation that we’ve received from our directors, we’ve all developed techniques that help us direct our voices, to control the choir’s sound as a whole, and interpret the lyrics that we sing.
I find myself wishing the week would go faster so that our rehearsal time can begin. These have become so much more than just an extracurricular activity. After every practice I feel that my mind is reset and reloaded with energy that allows me to carry on through the week in the best way. After seeing the uncontainable enthusiasm my sister and I demonstrated throughout the first rehearsals, my mom and my grandma decided to audition as well. When they got in the rehearsals turned into a moment in the week when I had the chance to spend time and pray with my loved ones.
Our participation in the choir has brought us endless peace and joy, but it is also one of the hardest challenges we encountered during the year. Sometimes my sister and I had to sacrifice some studying hours to go rehearse, and then we’d have to stay up until very late at night to finish going through our lessons. Some nights we’d just have to study during the rehearsals, silently reading our notes. It was very hard for our mom as well, since she had to give up spending a few hours with our two younger sisters after work. Nevertheless I believe that this has brought us together and it has strengthened our family.
Recording a sung rosary
During the months that followed, we started to prepare ourselves to record our first album, “Alégrate Conmigo”. The idea was to record a sung rosary in which our songs would be heard in between praying the mysteries. Not only did we put much effort in this project, we also prayed. Thanks to a very dedicated spirituality team, every single rehearsal felt like they were two hours of prayer and encounters with God. Saint Augustine once said: “He who sings prays twice”. Each one of us leave our troubles at the door to offer ourselves to Mother Mary completely, and pray for those who listen to our work.
When November arrived we started to record. We were all excited about being able to work with musicians from the National Symphonic Orchestra, and with such recognized professionals such as Sergio Cuquejo and Carlos Cazal. The recording process was an unforgettable experience that would not have been possible if it weren’t for the support given to us by the José Kentenich Foundation, and or directors’ incessant patience and determination.
We’ve always thought that our album’s purpose is to reach people’s hearts through music, which can make the most hidden feelings arise, can transport us through our dearest memories, and help us find a new perspective on life. We want people to see this sung Rosary as a new way to pray in the family, to bring life to our homes, and to feel the presence of Jesus and Mary within us.