Msgr. Watson now spiritual director of Italy choir pilgrimage

Rehearsals have started, but it isn’t too late to join the St. Anthony Camerata Chorale and St. Mary’s Cathedral Schola for a choir pilgrimage to “Majestic Italy” at the end of the year, according to Mary Ann Fahey-Darling.

“We can take people until mid-August,” said Fahey-Darling, director of the chorale, which is based at St. Anthony Parish in Bartonville. “We have about 44 — 34 in the choir — at last count. It would be nice to have a full bus, which is 60.”

One of those travelers will be Msgr. William Watson, recently retired pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Peoria Heights, who has joined the Dec. 30-Jan. 7 tour as spiritual director. He stepped in when Msgr. Stanley Deptula, director of the diocesan Office of Divine Worship, rector of St. Mary’s Cathedral Parish and pastor of St. Bernard Parish in Peoria was also named pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Peoria.

“I’m sad that Msgr. Deptula will not be able to go, but with what he has to do I understand,” Fahey-Darley said, noting that she is delighted to have another experienced traveler in his place.

“Msgr. Watson traveled with Ephphetha when that choir went to France and he was just amazing,” she told The Catholic Post. “He took a whole group of people to Lourdes. It was a wonderful experience for everyone.”

Fahey-Darling added that the senior priest would be able to concelebrate Mass with Pope Francis at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome for the Solemnity of the Epiphany. Not only will the choir be one of two adult groups to join a 200-voice youth choir during the liturgy, but the singers from the Diocese of Peoria have been invited to sing the postlude, Handel’s “For Unto Us a Child is Born.”

They will also sing for Masses at the Basilica of St. Clare and the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi, the Church of the Annunciation in Florence, the Church of St. Peter in Chains in Rome, and at the Tomb of St. Peter at St. Peter’s Basilica. A concert for the City of Rome, which is expected to draw 500 to 600 people, is planned for Jan. 5 at the Church of St. Ignatius in Rome.

Non-singers are welcome, too. The cost for “Majestic Italy” is $3,395 plus $695 for departure taxes, a fuel surcharge, etc. A deposit of $350 is needed to secure a place on the tour.

Rehearsals will continue several times a month through December. Rehearsal CDs will be provided for those who would like to sing as part of the choir.

For more information about the tour, the repertoire or rehearsals, contact Fahey-Darling at or Greg Etzel, director of sacred music for St. Mary’s Cathedral, at

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