Let the Children Be Heard: A Christmas Reflection on Modern Slavery was a beautiful and inspiring evening of readings and music at St Michael the Archangel Chapel, Leederville, conducted by Hugh Lydon with Stewart Smith from WAAPA on organ and the Aquinas College Schola Cantorum.
The event, held on the evening of Friday 10 December, was a resounding success, with 127 people attending in person and another 582 people viewing the event online as a live-stream or recording, tuning in from across Australia and overseas – including Italy, the UK, India, New Zealand, Thailand, and the Philippines.
“I would like to thank all our partners and sponsors for their contribution in making this year’s Christmas Reflection on Modern Slavery such a tremendous success,” Francis Leong, Catholic Mission’s WA Director, said.
Collaborators included the University of Notre Dame, Catholic Education WA, St John of God Healthcare, WACMRO, the Catholic Archdiocese of Perth, MercyCare, Sisters of the Good Shepherd, the Presentation Sisters, Aquinas College, Iona Presentation College, the Knights of the Southern Cross, the Catenians and Merus Sound.
“A very special thanks to the 30-odd students from Aquinas College Schola Cantorum who stood and sung with such gusto the Christmas choral repertoire for the hour-long duration of the Reflection,” Mr Leong added.
“As well as the students from Mercedes College, Iona Presentation College, Santa Maria College, St John Bosco College, Irene McCormack College, St Norberts College and Servite College who read with such intensity and verve.
“And in particular, to our two passionate keynote speakers, Ira and Crisel from Servite College, whose plea to all of us to become more aware and do our bit in addressing the problem of Modern Slavery certainly hit home: we cannot deny that we truly heard the voices of all our young people that night in Word and Song, so loud and so very clear,” he said.
Even though the event was free, Catholic Mission managed to raise over $17,000 in support of the Kindergarten Centre of the Good Shepherd Sisters at the Fatima Training Centre (FTC) in Bangkok, for the children of women who are vulnerable to modern slavery in all its guises.
The Kindergarten Centre cares for the children of disadvantaged mothers while they attend the FTC, making handicrafts for sale, learning new skills, and earning an income, and has now grown to accommodate children from poor families in the neighbourhood whose parents need to go to work and cannot care for their children during the day.
The strength and beauty of the Let the Children Be Heard was assured by the quality of the artists who donated both their time and talent to supporting the performance by the musically gifted students of the Aquinas Schola Cantorum.
Conductor Hugh Lydon, Director of the Aquinas College Shola Choir, is the consummate musician, starting as a chorister at Westminster Cathedral and singing with internationally renowned choirs such as the Rudolfus Choir and the New Dublin Voices, before arriving in Australia to work as a Music Educator and Artistic Director.
Of similar pedigree, Stewart Smith is a senior lecturer at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA), highly involved in teaching and research, as well chairing the Classical Music Department – in addition to being one of the most active organists and harpsichordists in Australia.
“…A two-minute highlights video of the 2021 Christmas Reflection on Modern Slavery will be available for those keen to promote the beauty and message of the event more widely. If you would like a copy or the YouTube link to this highlights video, please contact Francis at firstname.lastname@example.org. Come Lord Jesus…”