On Dec. 6 a crowd of 1,800 filled the seats at Sewell’s TD Bank Arts Centre to support Catholic education and get into the Christmas spirit, courtesy of three musical stars, Catholic school children and Bishop Dennis Sullivan.
On tour with Celtic Twilight Christmas, Andy Cooney, Phil Coulter and Geraldine Branagan, with the Irish Pops Orchestra, mixed in some classic tunes such as “Silver Bells” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” with Irish standards, such as “The Flight of the Earls” and “Christmas Morning Donegal” on the stage.
Preceding them, and accompanying them at times, were 70 children from the Camden Diocese’s elementary schools, making up the children’s choir.
Near evening’s end, Bishop Sullivan, in solidarity with his Irish brethren headliners, sang a rousing rendition of the folk song “Wild Mountain Thyme.” Those packed into the auditorium joined him in song, and as the bishop walked off stage, they gave him a standing ovation.
After the three-hour performance, audience members were invited to a meet and greet with Cooney, Coulter and Branagan at a nearby Irish Pub, Lazy Lanigan’s.
A total of $138,000 was raised at the concert for the South Jersey Scholarship Fund, which will bring tuition assistance to students at the 28 diocesan elementary schools and six high schools in South Jersey.
Prior to the event, a reception with Bishop Sullivan, musicians, the diocese’s Society of Stewards, and sponsors of Celtic Twilight Christmas took place at The Washington Catering Hall.
The event was “a wonderful show of support for many communities and parishes to support parents who wish to provide quality Catholic education to their children,” said Mary Boyle, superintendent of schools.
As well, she expressed gratitude “on behalf of the children” to “pastors who supported the concert” by providing busses to the arts center, encouraging donations or through other ways. “Whatever they do, does not go unnoticed,” she said.
Among sponsors for Celtic Twilight Christmas were Mutual of America; allRisk Property Damage Experts; Barbara and Jack Tarditti Fund; Lloyd Scott and Co.; Capehart & Scatchard, P.A.; The Daniels Group; Elko & Assoc.; Gerald T. Faller; McKernan, McKernan and Godino; Paul VI High School; Camden Catholic High School; Porter & Curtis; Qual-Lynx; Sacred Heart, Camden; Sphere Risk Partners; TD Bank; and William H. Sadlier.