Betania Choir from Venezuela to Perform Friday at St. Mary’s

Nov 28, 2017

On Friday, Dec. 1, enjoy a performance by the world-traveled Betania choir from Venzuela at St. Mary’s of the Pines Catholic Church, off McKinley Avenue in Manahawkin. The special free concert starts at 7 p.m. A free will offering will be collected afterward and refreshments will be served in the parish center.

The choir was formed 36 years ago by Venezuelan holy woman Maria Esperanza, now a candidate for sainthood. Esperanza visited New Jersey many times; she spent the bulk of 2004, her final year of life, in Southern Ocean County before succumbing to Parkinson’s disease at a friend’s home in High Bar Harbor. Her cause for beatification and canonization was opened in 2010. The choir today is carried on by her descendants.

With its original “midi” orchestration approach to singing choir music, the Betania Choir recorded five albums since 1989. Through its performances, the Betania Choir strives to spread a message of hope, love, reconciliation and peace in churches, hospitals, eldercare facilities, televised masses and festivals in Venezuela and abroad in Argentina, Canada, Cayman Islands, Ecuador, Israel, Italy, Peru, Spain, Switzerland and the U.S.

Held by many to be a messenger of hope and a genuine mystic, Esperanza was reportedly “visited” by the Virgin Mary more than 30 times, according to Robert Dodds of Cedar Run, a champion of her cause. During the construction of St. Mary’s of the Pines on McKinley Avenue, the Rev. Ken Tuzeneu had a window etched and installed that depicts Maria’s vision at a farm called Finca Betania.

The Betania Foundation is an evangelistic lay movement Esperanza started in 1979 with the mission to educate society, promote family values and advocate for social justice. Betania communities all over the world meet regularly to recite the rosary and pray for Esperanza’s canonization. Dodds co-coordinates the Long Beach Island group, designated Betania III and founded in 2008, with about 100 members.

Esperanza is believed to have had supernatural gifts of healing, levitation, stigmata, the “odor of sanctity” (a specific “saintly” scent, floral); and the abilities to receive divine visions and messages (“locution”), to be in two places at once (“bilocation”), to commune with the spirit world and to read others’ hearts. She had seven children and 20 grandchildren.  —V.F.

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.