Xaverian Jazz Band to play for Pope Francis
When Pope Francis arrives at John F. Kennedy Airport on Thursday for his first-ever trip to New York City, he will get a taste of Bay Ridge-style hospitality.
And he will be greeted by the sounds of jazz.
Students from Xaverian High School, a Catholic high school for boys in Bay Ridge, have been chosen to perform for the Pontiff during a ceremony marking his arrival at JFK on Sept. 24. The school’s jazz band will have the honor of being the only band performing for the Pope at the airport.
In another Bay Ridge touch, Arlene Figaro, principal of Visitation Academy, a Catholic school for girls, will also be at the airport that day. Figaro will be one of the people officially greeting Pope Francis and welcoming him to the city. “It’s quite an honor. I can’t wait!” Figaro told the Brooklyn Eagle on Monday.
Meanwhile, at Xaverian High School, the jazz band is busy rehearsing for its big moment.
Under the direction of Joseph Loposky, director of music at Xaverian High School, 44 student musicians in the jazz band will play musical selections for the Pope that are designed to convey a festive, yet spiritual atmosphere, according to school officials.
Playing for a Pope is nothing new for Xaverian High School students. They’ve done it before. The last time Xaverian’s music program performed for a papal visit was in 2008, when Pope Benedict XVI came to New York.
“It is incredibly exciting to once again have the honor of performing for a papal visit,” Loposky said in a statement. “The students are really looking forward to this experience, I cannot think of a better way to start the school year than to be a part of welcoming Pope Francis to New York City.”
Freshman Nick Fiocco said he was looking forward to performing for the leader of the world’s Catholics. “I think this is such an exciting experience,” he said. “Pope Francis is so accessible and open to the people, and I am excited for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to perform for him.”
“I feel like Pope Francis is such an innovative and unique Pope, and I just feel so fortunate to have this opportunity to play for him,” freshman Alexander Ayoub said.
Deacon Kevin McCormack, the principal of Xaverian, who serves as co-host of “Religion on the Line” on WABC (770 AM), will provide live commentary for the station for the Pope’s visit to New York and Washington D.C.
Bay Ridge is also putting its stamp on the Pope’s historic visit in other ways.
John Abi-Habib, owner of MSI Net, Inc. and a business leader in the neighborhood will get to see Pope Francis twice. On Thursday, Abi-Habib will attend a prayer service the majestic Saint Patrick’s Cathedral.
Abi-Habib and his wife Sonia will also be among the lucky ones to be on hand for the Pope’s Mass at Madison Square Garden on Friday.
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