Monday, January 16, 2017

Between New Orleans and El Paso

Monday greetings. It's another one of "those days" here in the Midwest; raining with temperature in the mid-thirties. Makes you want to curl up under a blanket.

I spent the past several days in New Orleans. I gave a presentation at the Gulf Coast Faith Formation Conference. My focus was on cultivating intentional hospitality in the parish.

I had an interesting conversation with a woman who was in her early seventies. She spoke with me after my workshop. She shared some of her story. She went through the RCIA in the last two years. She decided to become a Catholic after her daughter married a Catholic and became Catholic herself. She decided to become Catholic because she wanted to help be a spiritual guide for her grandchildren, who will be formed in the Catholic faith.

Her description of the RCIA process in her parish was far from glowing. She said that everyone, save herself, who was in the RCIA was there because they were marrying a Catholic. She told me that no one ever asked any questions; they were just there to get through it. When she prodded these young adults, urging them to ask questions, they told her, "We wait for you to raise your hand; you ask all our questions for us."

Once she was initiated, she found that there was really nothing in place to help her become involved in the parish. Her pleas to the parish leadership were either ignored or unanswered. She told me that she eventually went to the diocesan offices to complain and to let them know that, even thought she went through the RCIA, she found that the parish was unwelcoming to this new Catholic!

I asked her to contact me to tell me more of her story. I am hoping to write a new book soon and want to weave some of these stories, as well as successful ones, into it. I am thinking of calling it "How About Starting with Hello?" Intentional Hospitality for the Parish.

This is my only day here in the office this week. I am headed to El Paso in the morning, where I will be giving two workshops and a WLP music showcase at the annual Southwest Liturgical Conference. Feeling a bit weary, but plugging away!

More from El Paso as the week unfolds.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Virtual Journey Together

Tuesday greetings on the kind of day in the Midwest that we all dread here; 41 degrees, raining, raw, and windy; it goes right through you!

I am gearing up for the GO: Gulf Coast Faith Formation Conference that will take place just outside of New Orleans, in Kenner, beginning this coming Thursday. I always enjoy this conference and this year they are having a focused liturgy track as part of the conference. I am doing a presentation entitled "Intentional Hospitality: Cultivating the Welcoming Parish." In it, I will tell my own story about "shopping" for a parish once I left a parish of which I had been a member for over ten years.

This reminds me of something that occurred this past summer while I was leading one of WLP's "Sing the Seasons" choral reading sessions. During the break that evening, a woman came up to me and told me that she and I had been on a very similar journey and that she was so grateful that I had been her companion on that journey. I though it was odd because I had never seen nor even met this person. She said that she was a faithful follower of this blog. And she followed my very painful story of having left the parish that I loved so much in search of a new one; a search that was too often so painful and filled with disappointments. She said that at the same time, her home parish, in which she had been the full-time music director for many years, was assigned a new pastor. The new pastor very quickly began to dismantle much of the parish leadership team and she was fired. When she told me this, it was so obvious that this was a keenly painful experience for her. She said that she kind of latched on to my story and, although she felt like she was all alone in her pain, somehow she joined hers to mine and we (unbeknownst to me) became fellow travelers, searching for a new spiritual home.

Folks, I was so grateful that she shared this with me. Social media like blogs and other outlets can be very powerful tools as people move through life. I will never forget this encounter. And I was so grateful to hear that she, like I , had found a new spiritual home and was making music once again.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Old Saint Pat's and the Hokey Pokey

Monday greetings.

Have you ever had one of those Sunday liturgy experiences during which your whole being is just grateful for your parish, for your pastor, for your music director, for your cantors, for the people sitting around you, for the beauty of the space?

Yep, happened to me yesterday at Old Saint Patrick's here in Chicago. Nothing particularly earth-shattering about any of the individual elements, although I found the homily particularly stirring. I guess I walked in yesterday with an already grateful heart and so much of what I heard and sang just resonated within me. "O, star of wonder, star of night; star with royal beauty bright!"

I have been accused of "irreverence for the Mass" after some of my talks, when I bring in the idea that liturgical participation is like dancing the Hokey Pokey. You've gotta "put you whole self in!" I did that yesterday and God seemed to have taken me, shaped me, rolled me around, and spit me back out into a waiting world. Epiphanies abounded.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

RCIA for Children: A New Resource from WLP

Wednesday greetings from the home office here in Franklin Park, IL. Most of our WLP employees are back in the office after the holidays. Sometimes I feel like a "Dad" here; happy when all my "kids" are safely home!

A new RCIA resource for children arrived in our warehouse over the holidays. I am the chief editor of the book and this was quite the project. Children of the Light: Precatechumenate Sessions for Children and Families, by Blessie La Scola is a much needed resource for those working with the catechumenate for children of catechetical age. You can find it on WLP's web site, where you can click to find sample pages; we included some of the introduction and one entire session for you to examine. Each session includes a letter to be sent home to the child's parents or guardians. Just snapped this photo; isn't the cover beautiful?

This is the first of two manuals; the second manuscript from Blessie, which we are expecting shortly, will include sessions for the catechumenate period, purification and enlightenment, and mystagogy for children's catechumenate.

The book contains a CD-ROM, where you can find loads of materials to download from each of the sessions, including handouts, worksheets, projects, and those letters home.

Please, please, those of you who have been "hounding" me for years, looking for resources for children's catechumenate, take the time now to look at this resource and consider purchasing it. We would be most grateful.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Immense Gratitude for . . .

Friday morning greetings.

Did you happen to catch Pope Francis' remarks about the so-called "reform of the reform?"

This, my final day of work here at WLP for 2016, is a day of immense gratitude . . .

. . . for the WLP team members who work tirelessly to fulfill our mission to serve and inspire the singing, praying, initiating church

. . . for the managers here, five extraordinary women whose gifts and talents take my breath away every day

. . . for a work environment that is clean and environmentally friendly

. . . for windows in my office

. . . for the gift of music

. . . for our new team members who joined us in 2016

. . . for those who left our team in 2016 to pursue other life dreams

. . . for a caring family who owns our company

. . . for the opportunity to write this blog . . .

Happy New Year to all!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Chicago: "Keep Hope Alive!"

Thursday greetings on a cold, but sunny, day here in Chicago.

The New York Times printed a story today about Chicago's rise in murders and violence.

That article mentions U.S. House Representative Danny Davis, my own congressman; Mr. Davis represents the district in which I live.

Representative Danny K. Davis, a Democrat whose district includes some of Chicago's most dangerous neighborhoods, said that he believed poverty was fueling the city's bloodshed, and that Chicago needed to make investments 'to revamp whole communities.'

The article goes on. Notice what Mr. Davis says about hope.

"People struggle, and on top of that, in many instances, people have lost hope in their government," Mr. Davis said. "They've lost hope that something is going to change for them. And if we can't keep hope alive, then you don't have to wonder whether things are going to get better or get worse: They'll get worse."

And I didn't realize the following about Mr. Davis and his family.

Last month, Mr. Davis's 15-year-old grandson, Javon Wilson, was shot dead at a home in his grandfather's congressional district. The Chicago police said a fight that preceded the shooting may have been over a pair of shoes, and two teenagers have been charged in Javon's death."

Perhaps the Chicago initiative to end the murder and the violence should be called "Keep Hope Alive."

Feeling frustrated about all of this. Please keep my city in your prayers.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Faith and Action

Wednesday greetings from the quiet "home office" of WLP and J.S. Paluch here in Franklin Park, IL.

Well, I decided I needed to do something concrete yesterday after writing my post here. So, I wrote a letter to Chicago's Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Wanted to share it with you. I hope to receive an answer from His Honor and, if I do, I'll share that here as well. I am learning, even at 58, that in order to be a person of faith, I also need to be a person of action. Here you go:


December 27, 2016
Jerry Galipeau
1038 W Monroe Street
Unit 13D
Chicago, IL 60607
Mayor Rahm Emanuel
121 N LaSalle Street
Chicago City Hall 4th Floor
Chicago, IL 60602

Dear Mayor Emanuel,

I wanted to share a blog post I wrote this morning. I am a Roman Catholic blogger and I write a daily entry on the intersection of faith and life. The blog is

Here is this morning’s entry:

Tuesday greetings to all. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas.

I went to the 8:00 A.M. Mass at my parish, Old Saint Patrick's. There was a small choir, a string quartet and woodwinds. It was lovely. A few very strong male voices around me in the pews added to the wonder of the music.

Fr. Ed Foley preached a moving homily centered on the reality that we cannot celebrate Christmas without knowing the whole story; that, in a sense, we celebrate incarnation in the shadow of the cross.

A few weeks ago, I attended a Christmas party and struck up a conversation with a man I had never met. We got on the topic of politics and eventually started talking about what has been going on here in the city of Chicago this year, specifically the spiraling murder rate. We talked about the fact that when there is a terrorist attack, like the one that occurred in Berlin, where 12 people lost their lives and 48 people were injured, it becomes an international news story that garners the attention of the world. New methods of securing the safety of people are pondered and implemented. But we wondered why the killing here in Chicago has not resulted in any kind of concerted effort by the mayor, city leaders, religious leaders, corporate leaders, the great thinkers in our many colleges and universities to address this spiral of violence and death.

Here is a link to the article in today's on-line version of Time magazine. In short, the article reports that over the Christmas weekend, 53 people were shot in the city of Chicago and of those 53, 11 were killed. Where is the international outrage? Why isn't this the lead story in every on-line news agency, print news publications, international television news stations? I would surmise that one of the reasons is a racial one; most of these killings are occurring in poor neighborhoods on Chicago's south and west sides, where the urban poor, mostly black, reside.

When I was listening to Ed Foley preach on Christmas morning, about the incarnation and the shadow of the cross, I couldn't help but think that I live in a city where the cross casts an enormous shadow, certainly across the lives of my brother and sister Chicagoans who suffer violence and death in their families every single day. But that shadow is cast across City Hall as well and across the hearts of those who just don't care enough to do anything.

As you can tell, I am frustrated. After having spent five weeks on a federal jury, where I listened to former gang members talk about shooting people, I wonder what I need to do to help turn our city around. I'm trying to figure that out. The shadow of the cross impels me to do so.

Sorry for the "downer" post today. I live in hope, but a hope diminished these days here in Chicago.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

I wanted to share this with you to let you know how frustrated I am with the spiraling level of violence and killing in the city I love. And I want to ask you a question: What can an ordinary Chicago citizen do in the face of this violence? Have you thought of forming a task force, perhaps headed by you and Cardinal Cupich? It just seems that these senseless killings just go on and on with no end in sight. I would volunteer to help in whatever way I can.

I know this must be amazingly frustrating for you as our mayor. I would like to join you and others in a proactive way to find solutions that will address the root causes and help bring an end to the violence.

Yours truly,

Jerry Galipeau
Please, followers of this blog, pray for the City of Chicago in a special way.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.