Msgr. Edward J. Weber, Vicar of Rockland and Pastor of St. Francis of Assisi in West Nyack, was honored Nov. 20 for his pro-life work at the annual Concert for Life, held for the benefit of Good Counsel’s Home for expecting and parenting moms in Spring Valley.
Fr. Jim McKenna, SDB, Director the the Marian Shrine and Don Bosco Retreat Center in Stony Point, welcomed the audience to the shrine chapel “to celebrate life, to celebrate music, and to celebrate Msgr. Weber, who has pooled his strength and determination to make us in Rockland a ‘people of life.'”
The program began with Master of Ceremonies Steve Possell, co-host of the radio station WRCR’s morning talk show, “Mornings with Steve & Charlie,” who introduced Ed Luisi and the Jammin’ with Jesus music ministry. Steve described this group, which leads the congregation in music at the 5 pm Sunday mass at St. Peter’s Church in Haverstraw, as “exhilarating, spiritually enriching, and defining what it means to ‘celebrate’ the Eucharist.”
The group performed “Here I am to Worship” and several songs for the Feast of Christ the King, the last Sunday of the liturgical year, which was being celebrated that day.
The audience was swaying and clapping their hands to the music, when a loud round of applause broke out at the back of the church, and the audience rose in a standing ovation as the guest of honor, Msgr. Weber, was escorted up the aisle.
Although he had to be a little late for the concert, it was for the best of reasons. He had been celebrating Baptisms at his church, St. Francis of Assisi. Msgr. Weber thanked the audience for coming and praised Good Counsel Homes for their important work in reaching out to pregnant women who need help and for showing them how much others care for them and their babies.
Chris Bell, the Executive Director of Good Counsel Homes, presented Monsignor with a gift, a ceramic statue of Mary holding the Child Jesus. Chris thanked him for his leadership in helping to make Rockland a pro-life county in a pro-abortion world, referring to Msgr. Weber’s presence at the 40 Days of Life — from the very beginning of the movement in the county — his strong and vocal pro-life witness to the Gospel of Life, and his promotion of pro-life activities like the Life Chain and liturgies like the Dec. 8 National Night of Prayer.
Then the music program resumed with Dick Eggers, musical director of St. Gregory Barbarigo Church in Garnerville, who sang several favorite hymns, including one he composed himself that is used around the world at First Communion ceremonies, “Let the Little Ones Come To Me.”
Monica Peterson was next on the program with several Broadway show tunes, including “I Dreamed a Dream” and “On My Own” from Les Miserables and a beautifully moving “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
Then mezzo soprano Margaret Peterson, who has performed professionally in New York, China, and other music venues around the world, treated the audience to the “Habanera” from the opera Carmen and “Chacon a son gout” from Die Fledermaus. As a tribute to her grandparents, who were in the audience and who had encouraged her singing and love of music as a child, she sang her grandfather’s favorite, Frank Sinatra’s “My Way ” and Rogers and Hammerstein’s “Some Enchanted Evening” for her grandmother.
Monica and Margaret are daughters of pro-life leader Eileen Peterson. Eileen, who is a member of the Good Counsel Spring Valley Home Leadership Team, “produced” the Concert for Life.The piano accompanist for all performers was Ricky Romano from Stony Point.
As the concert came to a close, Chris Bell spoke about the work of Good Counsel. The newest home, in Camden, N.J., opened only last April, and already eight babies have been born there. Chris told the story of one young pregnant woman who was homeless and had been living in her car for six weeks after her parents had thrown her out of the house when she refused to have an abortion. She had been going into public bathroom facilities each morning to wash and get ready for work so her co-workers wouldn’t suspect she was homeless. Yet through the help of Good Counsel in Camden, she found a place to stay and have her son, whom she calls “the Light of my Life.”
Since it opened in 1987, the Good Counsel Home in Spring Valley has brought hope to hundreds of pregnant women just like her, through the efforts of those who bring the gospel of life into the world every day — and through the generosity of those who support them. A free will collection was taken at the Concert, and Chris asked everyone to pray over the possibility of making make an ongoing financial commitment to Good Counsel. If you’d like to help financially, please click here.
The concert came to a close with Dick Eggers, and Eileen, Margaret, and Monica Peterson singing “Our Lady of Knock.” And then there was a “Trapp Family Singers” grand finale with the whole Peterson family — Eileen and her husband, all seven kids, their grandfather, with their grandmother playing the piano — singing, together with the audience, their holiday favorite, “Edelweiss” from the Sound of Music.
From the Concert for Life commemorative journal: Monsignor Edward Weber