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Amid pandemic concerns, Liturgical Choir cancels spring break tour

| Wednesday, January 19, 2022

University college groups and clubs often spend spring break traveling and experiencing new things, but the ongoing pandemic has endangered this tradition for Notre Dame singing and choir groups.

Courtesy of Maggie Laurence
After a standard fall semester, the Notre Dame Liturgical Choir is back to wearing masks during rehearsals and Masses.

Each year, the Notre Dame Liturgical Choir goes on a tour, alternating between traveling during winter and spring break. Last week, the Liturgical Choir canceled their spring break plans due to COVID-19, the group’s third consecutive trip that has been canceled due to health concerns.

Club leaders started planning this year’s trip since last year, when their 2021 trip was canceled. Senior Liturgical Choir president Maggie Laurence said plans to travel from Atlanta to mid-Florida were complete, with many participants excited to join. 

Laurence said these tours are not small ventures and hard to confidently plan for a large group of people in the face of a pandemic.

“I think there are just a lot of things that are completely uncertain, especially with traveling with a large group, we probably would have anywhere from 40 to 50 members going with us at this time,” Laurence said. “It’s just not feasible to travel with such a wide group and ask that many people to come to see our shows as well.”

The call to cancel the trip came from Andrew McShane, director of the Liturgical Choir.

“It was an internal decision by the choir … it wasn’t like it was the University higher-ups. It wasn’t from that,” Liturgical Choir tour director Tristan Dooley said.

Club leaders said decisions about travel are left up to the clubs and organizations themselves, and there is no current push from University administration to cancel University-sponsored spring break plans.

In addition to missing out on a social experience, Liturgical Choir leaders say finances could also be tight after canceling tours the last three years.

“Tour is usually one of the biggest modes of income for the choir,” Laurence said. “We get to perform concerts at all of these lovely parishes and cathedrals, and usually this is where a lot of donations are made.”

Although the Liturgical Choir is also spending less during COVID-19, losing these consistent donations makes finances uncertain. 

The club also mourns the loss of a bonding experience. Many members hold this time as one where they were able to grow in their friendships and club involvement, Laurence said.

“It really is an opportunity to bond with the other choir members and it always is a time that you grow closer to your friends and in the choir,” she said. “So I think although it may not be explicitly mentioned, that is definitely something that lies at the heart of Lit Choir tour.”

The tour cancelation was a tough decision, but Dooley said the director made it with “the choir’s best interests in mind, like our personal safety, as well as just the organization as a whole.”

Club leaders say that they are thankful for opportunities to grow as a club despite experiences lost to the pandemic.

“I am always just really grateful that even though our choir has not been able to do a lot of the things that we usually do and all the things that we say bond us together as a choir. I am grateful for how the choir still is a beautiful community of friendship and faith,” Laurence said. “We’ve shown that we don’t need to have these things in order to still serve and to still be a coherent group.” 

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