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P.E.I. choir celebrates 25 years with fundraising concert for new recovery house

Musicians for the folk choir include Mike Johnston, left, bass guitar, Gary Arsenault, guitar, Ramona Roberts, guitar, and Marina Trainor, playing harmonica.
Musicians for the folk choir include Mike Johnston, left, bass guitar, Gary Arsenault, guitar, Ramona Roberts, guitar, and Marina Trainor, playing harmonica. - Desiree Anstey

KINKORA - A folk choir is getting ready to raise the roof of St. Malachy’s Roman Catholic Church with their voices — and raise some money at the same time — as they celebrate 25 years of harmony this Sunday.

All proceeds from the Dec. 3 concert will go towards the not-for-profit Lennon Recovery House, located in Rustico.

“We have all been touched by someone suffering from depression or mental illness,” said choir member Cynthia Lawless, who sparked the idea for the fundraiser, “and I can’t imagine there are too many families on the Island who haven’t in some way been touched by someone who took their own life.”

Lennon Recovery House is designed to bring hope and support to people who often battle with severe despondency or dejection.

“Dianne Young is a mom who lost her son to suicide, and it’s her mission since he died to have a place of recovery for people who are suffering from depression and mental illness,” explained Lawless. “Lennon Recovery House will open in honour of Lennon Waterman, her son.”

Lawless has been a member of the choir for two years and a St. Malachy’s parishioner for 30. She acknowledged that music has healing powers.

“You could be having the worst day ever and then go to mass, and be part of the choir or just in the congregation, and you leave peaceful. Music is very healing for anyone and it’s a nice thought to think of it tying into Lennon House.”

Lennon Recovery House plans to open soon.

“You could be having the worst day ever and then go to mass, and be part of the choir or just in the congregation, and you leave peaceful. Music is very healing for anyone and it’s a nice thought to think of it tying into Lennon House.”
-Cynthia Lawless

Lawless added, “We’re celebrating our music, church and anniversary, but what Lennon House can give back to the Island will be tenfold of what we can give to them.”

Cathy Arsenault, member of the choir, agreed that music is good for the soul.

“I love music; it’s in my blood. You feel so much better when you come back from choir, especially in church … I find it spiritual, uplifting, and adds so much more to the mass,” she said.

Ramona Roberts, choir director, says the folk choir kicked off 25 years ago as an alternative to the organ accompaniment.

“I grabbed a few friends and acquaintances and we decided to make a guitar choir, so it’s more of a folk choir,” she said.

The choir will take to the stage at St. Malachy’s Church in Kinkora to celebrate their 25th anniversary on Dec. 3 at 7 p.m.  

“This is a great heritage church. It’s the same architect that built Indian River, and the acoustics in this church are unbelievable. We can’t wait to get inside and raise the roof with our singers and musicians,” added Roberts.

Guests can expect sacred and Christmas music, with a sing-along at the end.

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