Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Photo By Michael Alexander
Homeward Choir members rehearse earlier this year during the 2013-14 homeless shelter season. The 2014-15 choir, which has 15 members, joined a 16-piece orchestra and the Shrine Music Ministry for a Dec. 14 Christmas concert at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Atlanta.


2014 update: Homeward Choir embraced by Atlanta

By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published December 23, 2014

ATLANTA—The Atlanta Homeward Choir, made up of men who otherwise call the streets their home, continues to both entertain and form a community.

Choir members are drawn from those who use the downtown Atlanta Central Night Shelter to get out of the elements during the winter nights. The shelter is a joint ministry shared by the Catholic Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and Central Presbyterian Church.

It’s the second year for the choir, under the direction of Donal Noonan, the music minister at the Shrine. He recruits the singers from the shelter when it opens in November, so it has new members this year. They rehearse for performances around Christmas and in the spring, before the shelter closes at the end of March.

“Nothing short of spectacular” is how Noonan described the packed performance on Sunday, Dec. 14, at the Shrine. The 15-member choir joined with a 16-piece orchestra and the Shrine Music Ministry to tell the story of Christmas to the standing-room-only audience.

For him, the music making is secondary to the bonds he’s seen created. The choir is “about the power of community,” he said, noting “how easily a community can be formed by people sharing the same struggles.”

There are 15 members in the Homeward Choir this year, double its size from the first year. People know what to expect, so more attention can be focused on singing and having fun, he said.

People in Atlanta and beyond have embraced the ministry. He said family members have reconnected and people and organizations have reached out to help the choir members.

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