Immigrants And Refugees

Empowering Young People Through Music — Your Lenten Reflection

Music Students at Alianza Dominicana Cultural Center

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.”
–John 3:16

The fourth Sunday of Lent is sometimes called Laetare Sunday. Laetare is a Latin word that means “rejoice.” Even as we observe our Lenten sacrifices, we rejoice in anticipation of the joy that will be ours at Easter.

Music is one way we may rejoice. We can call upon the help of music and song to give praise to God — and deepen our love for God.

Music is an integral part of the youth programing at our Alianza Dominicana Cultural Center. Alianza Dominicana Cultural Center is a multi-disciplinary arts center in Washington Heights — in an area officially designated as the “Little Dominican Republic” to honor the contribution of Dominicans in building up the neighborhood.

Alianza Dominicana Cultural Center showcases contemporary and classical Dominican and Latin American art, dance, and music. Intergenerational learning, transnational and cross-cultural activities are the philosophical guidepost of the center. Lessons and workshops in computers, arts making, popular and traditional dances and Afro-Latin percussion, as well as literary conferences, music and theatrical performances are provided free of charge.

On weekends during the school year, you can find students at the cultural center receiving accordion lessons, a critical instrument to Dominican music and the Merengue genre. Students learn to perform joyful, traditional music — with fast-paced, organ-like sound resonating from the classroom.

“I love the center — being able to practice art, music, and dance. I love it! It’s really good,” said Elyssia, 11, a student at the center. “When I start learning new things here, I’m excited about my schoolwork and to learn more.”

“We are the only institution dedicated to Dominican traditional and popular culture,” said Leonardo Ivan Dominguez, the Cultural Program Director, who has worked at Alianza for the past 27 years.

“We educate young people — young adults and children — about Dominican culture and traditions so they can be proud of themselves,” said Mr. Dominguez. “The educational programing helps children participate in school, have good attendance, have good grades — and be proud of their community.”

“With more respect for themselves, young people can grow up, become educated, and develop themselves,” said Mr. Dominguez.

At Catholic Charities of New York, we believe that all children deserve the opportunity to build social skills, gain confidence, and develop lasting values that will serve them well as adults.

On this fourth Laetare Sunday, as we rejoice in music and song, let us remember the reason for our rejoicing during this season of Lent and throughout our lives: Jesus as the light that has come into the world — and through Him eternal life.