"The greater the work the more
important it is to establish it on
a solid foundation. Thus it will
not only be more perfect; it
will also be more lasting.”

St. Louise de Marillac

“Be diligent in serving
the poor. Love the poor,
honor them, my children,
as you would honor
Christ Himself.”

St. Louise de Marillac

 

Drumming with Love

By Katelyn Rieder, communications co-op

S. Shirley Le Blanc leads the Sisters of Charity Drum Circle monthly in both Mother Margaret Hall and the Motherhouse.

From a young age, S. Shirley Le Blanc has experienced a love for drumming. Even though her family encouraged her to pursue other quieter instruments, she held the interest until she finished school and bought her first snare drum.

With that first drum, S. Shirley started to play whenever and wherever she could. She recalled, “I didn’t want to play in a band or anything, I just liked having fun.” Her passion became noticed and appreciated by others as she played during Sunday masses and services at her local church. That first snare drum has stayed with S. Shirley all throughout the years, and now allows her to play with others in the Sisters of Charity Drum Circle.

Back in 2016, S. Shirley was approached by S. Caroljean (Cj) Willie to lead a Sisters of Charity Drum Circle, thinking it would be a worthwhile and fun endeavor. After S. Shirley agreed, S. Cj allowed her to take the reins on the project. After a bit of planning, the very first meeting was a tremendous success and surprised S. Shirley greatly; more than 25 Sisters, Associates, employees, and others showed up ready to drum.

“Naturally, I didn’t have any other drums except my own personal drums, but I knew that I wanted to do this,” said S. Shirley. During this beginning stage, participants drummed on painted upside-down plastic buckets with homemade mallets (dowels with rubber toy balls tied together with felt). Since that first meeting 20 years ago, the Drum Circle has expanded and improved to now provide everyone with their own real drum and sticks for the hour. There is currently a Drum Circle gathering once a month in both Mother Margaret Hall and in the Motherhouse’s Cedars Auditorium.

Within the “hour of fun,” as S. Shirley lovingly calls it, a CD of curated music and songs plays for participants to drum along to. There are no rules or requirements—everyone is encouraged to play from their heart.

“With the elderly, they’re not usually there to soul search and get into meditative drumming,”

S. Shirley expressed, “they just want to have fun and express themselves with their hearts and their drums. It’s just absolutely wonderful to see and to be a part of.”

To contribute to the welcoming atmosphere, S. Shirley does her best to bring a variety of music genres for the group to play along to. From the blues to traditional marching band songs, everybody’s requests are met at some point in the hour.

An unexpected result of her facilitation is all the friends and resources she has connected with throughout the years. “If somebody ever comes across a drum they won’t use, they know they can give it to us,” said S. Shirley, laughing.

One of the many connections made through the Drum Circle was with the well-celebrated Royal Drummers of Burundi, who visited and performed at the Sisters of Charity campus during November 2023. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for all who attended.

Drumming has always provided S. Shirley with a sense of comfort, and this is only amplified when playing with others. She reflected, “As you get older, you change and you want to do more for people who are hungering for some spiritual connection with another person. So you extend your kindness and charity to them, and it creates a whole new connection for them.

“I think my motto is I do things because I can, and I probably will until the day I die,” she continued. “[Facilitating the Drum Circle] is a big motivator for me and a good practice in gratitude and trust; it helps me put more of my trust in God.”

The Royal Drummers of Burundi visited and performed at the Sisters of Charity campus in November 2023.

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