Michael McAllister | Thursday, February 24, 2011
It’s not uncommon for students and alumni of Notre Dame to express the sentiment that Our Lady’s University is like a home away from home. It’s a place where lifelong friendships are forged and memories that last a lifetime are experienced. For members of the Notre Dame Liturgical Choir, this feeling of home was enhanced all the more by the Choir’s late, great director and our “surrogate mother,” Dr. Gail Walton.
For generations of Liturgical Choir and Notre Dame Schola members, Gail was a light in our lives, teaching us much more than just the beauty of the Church’s rich liturgical traditions. Her patient and professional manner guided us to a deeper understanding of the Catholic faith through its timeless music. Despite being a supremely gifted musician and choral director, Gail kept the focus on the liturgy by fostering a prayerful atmosphere for anyone who might hear her choir perform, be it during Holy Week or any other occasion. Indeed, her selflessness served as a powerful example of humility and grace for all of her students.
For those of us who performed under her capable direction, it’s hard to explain what a great fortune it was to sing for her. When I chat with fellow alumni about her, even now we stand in awe of the way that she could take a group of undergraduate and graduate students from disparate backgrounds, whip them into shape and show them how to make such beautiful music together. Year after year, however, that’s exactly what she did.
Today, Feb. 24, marks the first anniversary of Gail’s untimely passing. For those of us who knew and loved Gail, Notre Dame will never be the same place without her wonderful presence. And though she is gone, her memory will live on with those of us whose lives she touched.
Class of 1998