A Visit from Arizona

A Visit from Arizona

Sister Maria Celia Molina, SNDdeN

Recently, Norma and Armando Contreras, good friends of Sister Maria Celia Molina, SNDdeN, and the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, came to Cincinnati from Phoenix for two reasons: to visit and to attend the Cincinnati premiere performance of the opera Knock in which their son has a lead role. Many years ago, Sister Maria Celia met Armando, a faith-filled, successful businessman and now CEO of the United Cerebral Palsy National Organization.

He is one of many people whom Sister Maria Celia encouraged to pursue a master’s degree in theology and then teach Hispanic religious educators at the Kino Institute and in other religious education programs in the Phoenix diocese. Impressed with the Sisters’ ministries, Armando and Norma invited friends to their homes to meet the Sisters and learn about and support our ministries.

Visiting MND for the first time, Norma and Armando had coffee with Sisters Maria Celia, Kathy Harmon, Mary Ann Barnhorn, Director of Development Kevin Manley, and Senior Development Officer Gina Huiet and talked about the opera Knock. Sister Kathy Harmon, SNDdeN was thrilled to be invited to attend the opera with them.

About the Opera Knock

Produced in 2021, Knock is among new operas created with contemporary storylines. The setting is an army base in Fort Carson, Colorado, where the wives of several of the wives are cut off; the wife of the base’s Commanding Officer is notified and brings the wives together in her home. If one of their husbands has lost his life, an Army officer is assigned to deliver the death notification. Gathered with the wife of the Commanding Officer, the women await the feared “knock” on the door. The Contreras’ son plays the officer who delivers his first knock to the wife and mother of a seven-year-old and a newborn baby. The opera communicates the horror and grief of the wife and the officer charged with delivering this fatal message.

From Aleksandra Vrebalov, the composer - “The Knock explores the friction between patriotism and personal loss, highlighting the sacrifices made by military families and the cost of war – the loss of human life. . . I use a full palette of sound and harmonic density to draw on the deeply felt emotions of the protagonists in the opera. . . I hope that this music offers insights, healing, and a deeper connection to a reality that is both urgent and relevant, even if it’s a reality that is extremely difficult to face.”

Sister Kathy Harmon said, “This opera is not about the U.S. and military power. It’s about the real price of war everywhere. Performing it in a small studio in Cincinnati’s Music Hall enabled the audience to experience the characters' experiences and emotions with intense directness. It was a story brought home in a way that made the audience want to stop war forever.” Deeply moved by this opera, Kathy would be happy to share details about the story, its message, and its rich symbolism.

Written by Sister Rita Sturwold, SNDdeN