“Words cannot express what they’re experiencing now:” Mater Dei moms give a parent’s perspective

By Molly Freedenberg

It’s undeniable that it’s an amazing, enriching, and just plain fun experience to be in one of the choirs touring with Incantato, but the chaperones and parents who accompany these tours have a unique perspective on what makes the tours so special.

First of all, the adults on the tour know how much their kids are learning. “The educational aspect is incredible,” said Marley Ramirez, whose daughter Ashton just toured with the Mater Dei High School Chorus. And though the touring and performing schedule can be tiring, Vicki Bueschel, whose daughter Gabi sings in the Advanced Women's Ensemble, says the kids don’t mind. “They’re thrilled…the experience is worth it to lose a little sleep,” she said.

Corie Thomas, whose daughter Lea is a sophomore, agreed. “Words cannot express what they’re experiencing now.”

And it’s not just the kids who are getting an education. Because of the nature of traveling with a group, and Incantato’s particular connections, these tour groups get to visit towns, restaurants, and performance venues that are unknown or off-limits to the average tourist, all with tips and information from their tour guides. “We’re in awe of everything we’re seeing,” said Vicki. “The tour company has been outstanding.”

Michelle Fulmer, whose daughter Kayla is a senior, agreed. “They’re doing it right,” she said, specifically mentioning the chance to sing for the Pope. “We’re doing things we couldn’t do on our own.”

Particularly special for the Mater Dei moms was the Catholic Pilgrimage aspect of their tour. Michelle was blown away she was able to visit the hometown of St. Francis di Assisi. For Vicki, seeing the Pope was the highlight of her trip. And all the moms were pleased that the tour seemed to give their kids a deeper connection to their Catholic roots and increase the likelihood that they'd continue going to church after they graduate from high school - including Gabi, who agreed her feelings about her religion were "much stronger" than before the trip.

What’s also special for these parents is the chance to spend time with, and experience another side of, their teenage children before the high-schoolers leave the nest. “I’m seeing a more grown up version of my daughter,” said Vicki, who was impressed with Gabi’s ability to take care of her own needs, belongings, and logistics.

So did their kids get the experience the parents had hoped for? “It’s even more than I’d hoped,” said Vicki. “It’s beyond what [the kids] thought it would be.” And an added bonus? Many of the parents now have new friends. Marley, Vicki, Corie, and Michelle weren’t a close foursome before the tour, but they already have an Italy-themed reunion planned when they get home. “Now we’re a family,” said Marley.