GGBC appointed to "Choir in Residence" at
The National Shrine of St. Francis
Nuova Porziuncola by Steven J. Meyer
In 2011, when the GGBC visited the actual, original Porziuncola in Italy, just outside the walls of Assisi, we sang a concert to a full house, and remained to sing to an equally well-attended Mass. However, we were not able to get a photo at the Porziuncola to document our visit, as no photos are permitted. There are security enforcers all around the little chapel to make sure it's tranquil setting is not constantly violated by flashes blinking and folks getting a souvenir photo of themselves.
However, on a second visit to the site, we requested - and, after phone calls by the local superior to the superior general in Rome, we were given permission to take TWO photos of the boys at the Shrine. We pledged to give a copy to the Fathers in San Francisco, who already have a photo of the choir in front of the replica in North Beach. To our knowledge, this dispensation has not been granted to any other visiting group - except Popes John Paul II and Benedict, who each made the same journey as we did with other world religious leaders to promote international harmony.
So, we have a special affection and affiliation between the GGBC, the National Shrine of Saint Francis in San Francisco, and the actual little chapel, housed inside the great Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Italy. And, it is a "big deal" that the GGBC has been named as the choir in residence at this National Shrine.
Further more, as a choir dedicated by our Pueri Cantores membership to singing to the world of God's peace, we align ourselves with the great work of Saint Francis during his lifetime and to the present: peace with nature, with God's creatures and with God himself. May it be so with us and among all for whom we sing and ring. Let there be peace on earth and let it begin - with each of us!
The white, wooden Gothic church on the corner of Vallejo and Columbus was the first Catholic Cathedral in San Francisco (the present Saint Mary's Cathedral at Geary and Gough being number five), and so it is a historic building in itself and dedicated to the patron saint of the city, Saint Francis of Assisi. As the Shrine website notes, the church is an oasis of quiet and tranquility open every day to persons of every nation and creed in a busy and fast-moving city and neighborhood.
Recently, the former gymnasium attached to the church was transformed in order to receive an exact replica of the Porziuncola, the little chapel, which Saint Francis and his friars rebuilt back in the 700's with their own hands. This was Saint Francis's favorite spot in the environs of Assisi, a place he frequented for prayer, to sleep at night, and, as "Sister Death" approached, he asked to be carried to this little spot, his Nuova Porziuncola, from which he handed over his spirit to his Creator.
From the Heart of San Francisco
“In one of my final acts as rector of The National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi, I am happy to announce that the Golden Gate Boys Choir and Bellringers is hereby appointed our “choir-in-residence” at The National Shrine. What this means is that our church will serve as a regular venue for performances by the GGBC and that the choir and bell ringers will provide music for special liturgies in The Shrine. We have had an ongoing relationship with the Golden Gate Boys Choir and Bell Ringers under director Stephen Meyer since I came to The Shrine three years ago. They have performed concerts here, as well as an Advent service of carols. Members of the choir have provided the music for our Christmas Eve Masses.”
- Father Gregory Coiro, OFM Ca