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Sounds of Rome

Saint Margaret Mary Catholic School Choir students pose outside of St. Peter’s Basilica the morning of the New Year’s Day mass.

Saint Margaret Mary Catholic School Choir students pose outside of St. Peter’s Basilica the morning of the New Year’s Day mass.

Kristy Vickery

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Cristyn Schroder tossed a coin gently over her shoulder into the Trevi Foundation and made a wish — to visit Rome again one day.

“It was great to be given the honor,” the music director of Saint Margaret Mary Catholic Church said. “It was beyond my wildest imagination.”

Schroder and 49 of her Saint Margaret Mary Choir students went on a one-week trip to Rome to perform during New Year’s Day mass for Pope Benedict XVI in St Peter’s Basilica.

The 36th International Congress of Pueri Cantores, founded in the 20th century as a deep ancient Christian conviction that singing can be an instrument of worshipping God, gave the Winter Park school’s students a chance to display not only their voices to the Pope, but the faith they hold so dear to their hearts.

“I’m teaching them that music is a means to worship and honor to God with your God-given voice, and to be able to use that with children from all over the world was amazing,” Schroder said.

The Pueri Cantores, held every four years, is made up of boys and girls who sing in choirs in 35 countries; 90 choirs from all over the world were present this year.

“It was truly a once in a lifetime experience,” Saint Margaret Mary’s Assistant Principal Lorianne Rotz said. “It was an incredible opportunity for so many reasons — for our faith, community building and a great chance for the students and parents to have a faith journey together.”

The city of Winter Park also honored the students before they left for their trip by inviting them to sing at a City Commission meeting. Mayor Ken Bradley designated the week of Dec. 26 as Saint Margaret Mary Catholic School Choir Week.

Principal Katie Walsh said it was another great honor for the school.

“The whole experience was truly awe-inspiring,” Rotz said.

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