RIVERVIEW – Organizers expect more than 700 people will usher in the holiday season with a “Christmas Around the World” concert Nov. 22 at 7:30 p.m. at St. Stephen Catholic Church in Valrico.
George Miecyjak of Riverview, president of the church’s Cultural Diversity Ministry, will produce this year’s Advent Concert.
He said the diversity ministry is presenting the “beautiful concert” which will blend narration and classic Christmas carols in a variety of languages including Spanish, Polish, German, Korean, Italian and English.
“The St. Stephen Church Cultural Diversity Ministry focus is to showcase, on an annual basis, the beautiful cultures and traditions of the varied ethnic groups that exists in our community,” Miecyjak said.
He said this is the third year the ministry has sponsored and produced the concert at the church, 5049 Bell Shoals Ave., Valrico.
He said a sold-out performance is expected, encouraging concert-goers to purchase tickets ahead of time and arrive early for good seats.
“Our ultimate objective is to give our varied ethnic and American audience a chance to reflect on what this time of the year really means and learn and appreciate the steeped traditions that exists among our ethnic groups that live now in our own church community as well as the Tampa Bay Area,” Miecyjak said. “The proceeds from the concert will help support the Ministries of Mercy at St. Stephen Church and in particular the San Jose Home Makers Ministry.”
The concert will feature guest soprano soloist Ewa Lewandowska of Poland, Brittany Mruczek of western New York, Adepeju Dawodu of Nigeria, Jin Dozier of Korea and Jose Rivera of Puerto Rico. Accompanying the guest performers will be “The Voices of St. Stephen,” under the direction of Chris Westfall.
“Past concerts have been very successful not only financially but also artistically where I am always trying to introduce new and talented artists to our community,” he said.
Gretchen Robens, the communications coordinator for the church, said the cultural diversity ministry was formed within the last five years.
“Due to their hard work, we have helped many diverse people feel at home worshipping and serving with us,” she sad.
Robens said last year’s concert had a Hispanic flavor which included a lively Mariachi band in full costume.
“In addition to the big Christmas concert events, they have really put the shine on our special groups in the community – we have Advent and Pentecost events that highlight the diversity of Caribbean, Central and South American, Polish, German, Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, and Italian members of the community,” Robens said.
She said the concert is always inspirational and uplifting.
“In my own experience, I love the universality of the Christian experience,” Robens said. “Celebrating the essence of our faith with people of different languages and customs gives me a sense of awe – there is a powerful spirit at work among us. We weave something together that cannot be broken, and has so much beauty – like a rainbow reflects the sun.”
Tickets, which are $12 in advance, are available at St. Stephen Church Office and Ave Maria Books & Gifts, 222 Bryan Road, Brandon. Tickets are $15 at the door.
For more information about the event, call (813) 689-4900 or visit ststephencatholic.org/ministries/culturaldiversity.