Father Harlow entertains residents of Winooski residential care community with piano program
Father Francis Connors tapped his foot and sang along to all the songs his brother priest, Father Lance Harlow, played on the piano during a special presentation July 26 at Our Lady of Providence residential care community where Father Connors, a senior priest of the Diocese of Burlington, lives in Winooski.
“I like music,” he said. “I like every kind.”
This was the second time Father Harlow, pastor of Corpus Christi Parish based in St. Johnsbury, played for the residents there. The first time he played and sang songs from the Sixties; this time his repertoire was liturgical music from Ordinary Time, Christmas, Easter, Advent and Lent; he added some patriotic tunes too.
It’s good for the residents “to be gathered together and to hear music and sing,” said the priest who plays a variety of instruments besides piano and has performed at priest talent shows. “And it gives them a sense of family.”
In addition, for persons with memory issues, music can “touch them deeply in their soul,” he said. “Sometimes it triggers memories and responses and is soothing and brings them to a calm place.”
Though he said he is not a performer, Father Harlow gave the 20 residents almost an hour of musical entertainment, introducing each song and sometimes offering light-hearted commentary.
Before singing “Silent Night” from his selection of Christmas songs, Father Harlow encouraged his listeners to “think snow, ice and freezing rain,” which he said were “every priest’s nightmare on Christmas Eve.”
Introducing one of his “all-time favorites,” the Weston Priory “Wherever You Go,” he described it as a “very, very pretty” song.
And when it came to “How Great Thou Art,” he encouraged his listeners to “feel free to belt it out.”
Father Harlow used his concert also as a time to pray, dedicating a couple of songs as prayers: “Let There Be Peace on Earth” for the people of Ukraine and those in other war-torn areas of the world and “America the Beautiful” as a prayer for Vermonters who are suffering because of flood damage and other Americans suffering from extreme weather.
Resident Jacques Trahan, a U.S. Air Force veteran, sat in the front row. “I liked the patriotic songs” best, he said.
Father Harlow encourages others to visit nursing homes and share their talents, or at least to visit and simply sit and listen to residents. “You have brothers and sisters in Christ there,” he said. “You can go in and listen, smile, laugh with them, listen to their stories. That’s how you touch their souls” — even if you don’t play the piano.