Patricia Rice | St. Louis Public Radio

Patricia Rice

Patricia Rice is a freelance writer based in St. Louis who has covered religion for many years. She also writes about cultural issues, including opera.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: This week’s Rosh Hashana services marked the first day of the Jewish Year 5774. The ancient notes from a great shofar – a hollowed-out ram’s horn -- sounded at dozens of synagogues and Jewish center across the region at the end of services.

Peace in the Middle East is a constant prayer on Rosh Hashana. It may have been so since the days of Abraham. And this year, the issue is more sharply focused as it comes near a major war anniversary and the time for decisions on what to do about chemical warfare in Syria.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Patricia Quarando of St. Charles will skip breakfast, lunch and dinner on Saturday. She is eager to follow Pope Francis’ call for "people of good will" to observe Saturday as a worldwide day of fasting and prayer for peace in Syria.

Quarando, an airline ticket agent, plans to go to her parish church, St. Justin Martyr Catholic Church in Sunset Hills. She’s one of thousands of St. Louis Catholics who will do the same.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The saga of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, just north of downtown, has picked up steam again. This time its pastor, the Rev. Marek Bozek, said the parish is seeking a bishop and a wider denomination or federation to join.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The next time your pastor, rabbi or imam gives a fine sermon praise him or her. When a spiritual leader returns from a few days off, avoid adding guilt by saying he or she was missed when air-conditioning went kaput. Instead, say welcome back and say you hope the well-deserved time off was restful.

A new study says it’s good for their mental health.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Brünnhilde, a majestic Valkyrie, pulls her golden shield tight to her heart, and jabs her long spear at semi-god Siegmund. With his magic sword he slams her spear. Clashing metal, thunder, ecstatic love duets, bloodshed, pandemonium then stillness -- that’s all in a night at the opera at Union Avenue Opera.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: “A taste of heaven on earth” was how several Missouri young adults who prayed at the six-day World Youth Day in Rio with Pope Francis and 3 million other young people, according to official government count.

“We were completely crowded so cold and shivering but it felt right. We all belonged together, we all had a place,” said Toni Firoved, 19, of Sacred Heart Parish in Troy, Mo. She talked by phone late Sunday night from her Rio hotel.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: St. Louisans had been singing in the rain and wind at World Youth Day in Rio for four days and nights

“The sun came out this morning. For the first time we could see the statue of Christ the Redeemer on the Corcovado mountain overlooking the city,” said Chris Venverloh, 23, a member of St. George Parish in Gardenville in south St. Louis County. He spoke by phone as he and 20 other Missouri young adults prepared to leave their hotel for Copacabana Beach where they would join more than 1 million young people in praying the Way of the Cross, a Catholic devotion that recalls Gospel accounts of Jesus final hours.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Yesterday, as with most Sundays, Kathy Miller, 25, ushered at 11 a.m. Mass at her parish, Seven Holy Founders Church in Affton.

Next Sunday she’ll participate in a Mass with identical core prayers but everything else will be different. Instead finding a familiar pew, she’ll be kneeling on her sleeping bag outdoors at a Brazilian Air Force base as Pope Francis celebrates Sunday Mass. Instead of praying with neighbors and childhood friends, she’ll be surrounded by young people from more than 100 countries. She expects the pope to focus his homily on how her generation can help the world.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Puccini’s "Madama Butterfly," one of the most beloved and most often performed operas, comes to Union Avenue Opera Friday with singers who have become UAO favorites.

"The ‘Madama Butterfly’ story has so much joy and love in the first act," soprano Ann Hoyt Wazelle, who sings the title role, said. “Butterfly is very young, 15, and so faithful to (U.S. Naval Lt. Benjamin Franklin) Pinkerton. All its music is so beautiful.”

Corinne Winters in "The Kiss"
Poster | Opera Theatre of St. Louis

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: A comic opera about a charming woman who won't disrespect mourning customs opens Sunday night at 7 p.m. at the Loretto-Hilton Theater.

It’s Bedřich Smetana and Eliška Krásnohorská’s “The Kiss.” And this opera is OTSL’s second opening night in succession. Saturday is the world premiere of Terrence Blanchard and Michael Christofer’s “Champion.”

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Six and a half years ago leaders of Opera Theatre of St. Louis and Jazz St. Louis met to consider commissioning an American opera in the jazz style.

They’ve nursed it, rehearsed it and will give birth to “Champion,” by composer Terence Blanchard and librettist Michael Christofer, at 8 p.m., Sat., June 15.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Tenor Michael Hayes stepped on short notice into two roles Friday night at Opera Theatre -- as the sensitive lover Luigi in Puccini’s "Il tabarro" and as the jealous husband Canio in Leoncavallo’s "I Pagliacci."

He displayed remarkable vocal and dramatic gifts, tightening up the paired Italian tragic operas that opened last Saturday night.

Tim Mix as Michele and Emily Pulley as Giorgett in "Il tabarro."
Ken Howard | Opera Theatre of St. Louis | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: A green eye glares from a man’s face, which is framed by a graffiti-style heart sketched in lipstick.

That’s the image on the cover of Opera Theatre of St. Louis’ gorgeous 160-page annual program book. It is a look of sheer terror.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Two short operas about love triangles will show St. Louis audiences Saturday night that gorgeous music can often more effectively aim a story straight to the heart than words alone.

A double bill of Giacomo Puccini’s 1918 "Il Tabarro" and Ruggero Leoncavallo’s 1892 "Pagliacci" runs in rotation through June 29 as part of Opera Theatre of St. Louis' 38th spring festival.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Two short operas about love triangles will show St. Louis audiences Saturday night that gorgeous music can often more effectively aim a story straight to the heart than words alone.

A double bill of Giacomo Puccini’s 1918 "Il Tabarro" and Ruggero Leoncavallo’s 1892 "Pagliacci" runs in rotation through June 29 as part of Opera Theatre of St. Louis' 38th spring festival.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Pope Francis has long been devoted to a St. Louis pioneer woman: St.  Philippine Duchesne. For years, perhaps to this day, he daily prayed to her to intercede to God for his work. On the first month anniversary of his election, he accepted an image of St. Philippine -- a print made from the chapel stained glass window in the St. Louis archbishop’s residence at Lindell Boulevard and Taylor Avenue.

Deanna Breiwick as Mabel, Matthew Plenk as Frederic, and members of the chorus in Opera Theatre of Saint Louis’ 2013 production of The Pirates of Penzance.
Ken Howard | Opera Theatre of St. Louis | 2013

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: A rollicking band of singing pirates will open Opera Theatre of St. Louis’ 38th festival season of five operas (two a double bill) on May 25. Gilbert and Sullivan’s infinitely hummable, romantic comedy “Pirates of Penzance” launches the season and continues with eight performances in rotation through June 29.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Many of Allyson Ditchey’s St. Louis friends passionately love Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story” but tell her they don’t like opera. “I tell friends that they should come to ‘Trouble in Tahiti’,” says Ditchey, the production’s stage manager.

“They will love this music, very Bernstein. It’s a perfect introduction to opera. It’s in English with supertitles. And the story is very smart, as relevant today as it was when he wrote it” in 1951.

“Trouble in Tahiti” opens Union Avenue Opera’s 19th season at 8 p.m. April 19.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Black smoke appeared again Wednesday from the chimney of the Sistine chapel, signaling that no pope has been elected yet. The first vote was taken Tuesday. After two more ballots this morning, the second and third of this conclave, the Cardinals went to lunch. They are expected to take two more rounds of voting this afternoon unless the 115 cardinals give one man 77 votes in the next round. 

By this weekend, the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics might have a new pope.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Argentinian Jesuit Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio is the new pope. He is the first Jesuit pope, the first pope from the Americas, the first non-European pope since the early centuries when there were African popes.

Not even the Jesuit weekly America had him on their list of profiled candidates.

He is 76, and is humble priest who moved out of the Argentine archbishop's traditional residence and lived in an apartment in a poor neighborhood. He got rid of the chauffeur and drove his own car.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Today at 10:07 a.m. St. Louis time,  a helicopter bearing Pope Benedict XVI, the 265th pope, lifted off from the Vatican Gardens to fly 15 miles southeast to Castel Gandolfo on the shores of Lake Albano. The estate with beautiful formal gardens usually serves as the papal summer home because it is cooler, well, slightly cooler than Rome.

There at least until May, under the name of “His Holiness, Benedict XVI the Pope Emeritus,” he is expected to continue a life of prayer and writing. But Wednesday he said that his will not be a “life of privacy.”

A map of St. Louis in 1780
Archives in Seville, Spain | Wikipedia

A respected historian is as excited about three maps he found as if they were treasure maps. They lead to special sort of "gold," the earliest known description of what has become St. Louis and north St. Louis County.

Carl J. Ekberg believes a French citizen already had settled in what now lies within the today’s St. Louis city limits before Feb. 14, 1764, the auspicious day 14-year-old Auguste Chouteau oversaw the beginning of the construction of a fur trading post for Pierre Laclede Liquest.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: This morning at 4:26 St. Louis time, the pope placed a red hat on Timothy Michael Dolan making him a cardinal of the Catholic Church. The conferral service, called a consistory, took place under the great dome of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. For Dolan, it was 11:26 a.m. when he was made a cardinal.

Dolan who had long and loudly proclaimed that the only Cardinal he ever wanted to be was Stan Musial smiled widely at Benedict XVI and bowed his head so the pope could place the biretta on the Maplewood native’s head. In response, a huge smile broke over the German pontiff’s face.

The vocally challenging and fun-filled "La Fille du Regiment" by Donizetti will be taking the stage at Union Avenue Opera.  Then, starting Aug. 20, the atmosphere turns much darker with Tchaikovsky’s three-act tragedy “Pikovaya Dama.”

Daughter of the Regiment

As Haitians look back on the earthquake devastation that remains and look ahead to the hurricane season, they clearly see that a lot of work remains.

About 1.5 million Port au Prince residents (out of the country’s population of 8 million) still sleep in tented camps and spend part of each day standing in line for purified water. Coordination among aid organizations that have been in Haiti for a long time is going well, but that’s not the case with many of the organizations that first came in after the quake.

Dr. Pat Wolff at a clinic.
Provided by Washington University

Six months after Haiti's devastating earthquake, some Haitian institutions are planning for a "new normal."

The tragedy in Haiti has steeled the determination of several seasoned St. Louis volunteers to educate, mentor and help more Haitians become self-sustaining. Haitians must serve their own people and run their own hospitals, schools and society, they said in interviews this week.

Expansions are planned in Haiti for two St. Louis-founded institutions.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The Kennedy Center awards have been handed out and the concert celebrating the gifts the award winners have given to America will be shown in a two-hour prime-time special at 8 p.m., Dec. 29 on CBS.

One of Sumner High School's gifts to the world will stand center stage with rock star Bruce Springsteen; actor Robert De Niro; comedian, writer and producer Mel Brooks; and jazz pianist Dave Brubeck.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 29, 2008 - To win votes of faith-based groups across the spectrum of beliefs, the Democratic and Republican presidential campaigns have hired special faith outreach staff. Candidates' supporters hold house parties and coffees for members of their faith groups to convey the idea is that "lots of people who share your values" support their candidate.

Jennifer Johnson mezzo soprano 300 pxls 2008
Ken Howard | Opera Theatre of St. Louis | St. Louis Beacon archive

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The sensation of a young singer stepping in for an established star -- a "Star is Born" moment -- is adding excitement to Opera Theatre of St. Louis' production of Offenbach's "The Tales of Hoffmann."

On Sat. night, May 24, mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnson, 23, steps into the dazzling role of Nicklausse, Hoffmann's great companion and muse in "The Tales of Hoffmann." In February she won the Metropolitan Opera National Council's annual auditions and for the next six weeks she is subbing for a resting mezzo soprano. The role has some of the opera's most beautiful arias.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: As Cardinal Edward Egan of New York approaches retirement, the names of two former St. Louis-area bishops are being bandied about as possible replacements. The first is Atlanta Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, 60, the former bishop of Belleville who left in 2004. If Gregory were named, he would become the first African-American cardinal.

Another beloved former St. Louis region bishop is also being mentioned  -- Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, 58, who left St. Louis in 2002. For years, church leaders have expected this joyful priest to be named to an archdiocese where he would be named a cardinal.

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