Determined to bring together the faithful and people who may be seeking God’s guidance in a time of crisis, the Cathedral of St. Joseph put on a concert of our times on Sunday.

The choir gathered in the nave of the cathedral in order to present four sets of hymnal performances and other group acts dedicated to the worship of Jesus Christ, the reverence of Saint Mary and to promote the cause of collecting free-will donations for the new St. Gianna Beretta Molla Early Childhood Education Center.

“We’re so lucky to have wonderful institutions, especially here at the cathedral,” said Matthew Bobela, choir director. “Investing in the education of our youth of the world, that is going to make so much of a difference in the future.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have advised that singing is among the ways that COVID-19 can be spread from the singer to other people, so the cathedral blocked off every other pew, and spaced out positions for each choir member. Members of the audience were also encouraged to wear masks as COVID remains an active public health threat, although Buchanan County and much of Missouri have seemingly been spared from the renewed flareups seen in places like Arizona and Texas.

Bobela said that in these times, there is a particular need for the performing arts.

“It’s music that unites us ... and everything seems so divided in our climate currently,” he said. “It’s music that brings us together.”

As members of the community arrived to hear the choir sing, free-will donations were collected to benefit the new education center, which is about a block west of the cathedral. Event organizers urged for those present to pray for the protection and intercession of St. Mary in a time of global crisis as the future is built for her children.

The center itself is located about a block west of the cathedral proper at North 9th and Robidoux streets. It is set up within a completely renovated building and has been preparing for operations over the last several months, although the pandemic delayed the official opening. It is now expected to open its doors in July.

The center is named for St. Gianna Beretta Molla, an Italian pediatrician who Catholics revere for her dedication to motherhood and the proper upbringing of children; Beretta Molla’s refusal, in 1962, to obtain an abortion advised by doctors after she suffered a major pregnancy complication resulted in the birth of a healthy daughter who still lives, but Beretta Molla died soon afterward.

For enrollment and other information, visit https://cathedralsj.org/.

Marcus Clem can be reached at marcus.clem@npgco.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NPNowClem