Tuesday, June 30, 2009

St. James and the Keely Churches

Happy Tuesday to all. 

Yesterday I noted that I was the substitute musician for our music director at St. James here in Chicago. Our church steeple is pictured above. 

Many of you may remember the devastating fire that occurred at Chicago's Archdiocesan cathedral in early February. Holy Name Cathedral was heavily damaged in that fire:

The architect for Holy Name Cathedral was Patrick Keely, who designed scores of churches in the United States in the nineteenth century. I have been fortunate to play for Masses in some of these churches, including Holy Name Cathedral.

I played at several ordinations at St. Michael's Cathedral in Springfield, Massachusetts, pictured here (from a postcard):

I also played at many ordinations, bishops' funerals, and other Masses at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston, pictured here:

When I was a seminarian in Boston way back in the late 1970's, I played at another of Keely's churches, St. Peter's Church in Lowell, Massachusetts. The place was, in a word, magnificent. The organ, a four-manual Hook and Hastings, was a shear joy to play. While the organ was a joy to play at St. Peter's, the congregation's singing was lackluster at best. The church building itself was condemned because of structural problems in the 1980's. When the building was condemned, parishioners met for Mass in a large room in the parish school. In that room, I played an upright piano that was badly in need of a good tuning. I will never forget the first Mass I played in the school building. The people sang like they never had in the church building. I guessed that it was because they were in exile in that building. Somehow, the sense of displacement must have moved their hearts and voices. It was pretty amazing.

This brings me around to telling the recent history of my parish, St. James. After the fire at Holy Name Cathedral in the winter of this year, officials from the city of Chicago and the Archdiocese of Chicago decided to visit other churches designed by Patrick Keely, which brought them to St. James. They noticed some cracking in the ceiling and, shortly before Ash Wednesday, they closed our church building. We have been worshipping in the parish hall ever since. And the same thing that happened at St. Peter's in Lowell has occurred at St. James. Now, we have always been a strong singing community. But in the parish hall, our singing has become pretty incredible. It's amazing.

On Sunday, we had several visitors in attendance at both Masses. The organization, Teachers Across America, is sponsoring some kind of month-long event at the Illinois Institute of Technology, a school adjacent to St. James. The catholic young adults in this program came to the Masses at St. James on Sunday. At the 11:30 Mass, they made up about half of the congregation. Two of the pieces of music that were programmed for that Sunday were You Are the Voice and City of God. Neither of these are particular favorites of mine, but they were obviously very well known by these young adults. It was as if I had a strong choir in the room; their singing was splendid. It dawned on me that this genre of music has become very much a part of the fabric of these young adults' Catholic experience. Their jubilant singing was a real sign of hope for me. As we await changes in the English translation of the Missale Romanum, my hope is that these young adults will continue their dedication to singing the music of the Church, especially the chant settings of the Mass and new settings currently being revised composed. 

I hope you enjoyed this post. These churches brought back lots of good memories for me, and humorous one. One Sunday, during a particularly long homily at St. Peter's in Lowell, I decided to stretch out on the front choir pew in the lonely choir loft. It was a hot summer's day and all of the doors and windows of the church were open. I must have begun to dose as I lay there on that pew. The next thing I knew, in my half-sleep, I thought I felt hot breath on my face. I opened my eyes and I was staring squarely into the eyes of a dog that had wandered into the church and had ascended the stairs to the choir loft.

Needless to say, that was the last time I decided to take this kind of rest during a Mass at which I was the organist.

Hope you have a great day. 
Gotta sing. Gotta pray. 

Monday, June 29, 2009

Back in Chicago - Great Memories of Mystagogy in Lansing

Hello everyone. We had a glorious weekend here in Chicago. I had the privilege of "subbing" for our music director at two Sunday Masses at Saint James yesterday. I'd like to write more about that in tomorrow's post.

Sorry I wasn't able to post any more from Lansing. Here's a photo of the exterior of the Bethany House retreat center in Dewitt, Michigan, where 70 of us spent two full days focusing on the period of Mystagogy of the RCIA.

The two days seemed to be beneficial for the participants. Many in attendance were seasoned initiation ministers. They had great questions and insights from their experience. Basically, we spent two days focusing on what paragraph 244 of the RCIA text says about the period of mystagogy: deepening the grasp of the paschal mystery. 

We celebrated Eucharist on Thursday afternoon and Night Prayer on Thursday night, as well as Morning Prayer on Friday. Here a few photos of the chapel.

I loved being able to share some history with the people in attendance, especially my favorite mystagog, St. Cyril of Jerusalem. 

Well, that's about it for now. NPM convention begins this coming weekend and there is lots to do here at WLP. One final photo for your enjoyment. Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Good day, all. I'm in Dewitt, Michigan at the Bethany House Retreat Center. This place sits on 95 beautiful rolling acres. I have on-and-off Wifi service here, so I am getting in a sneak post while I can. The day's schedule is packed. I will try to post later tonight when things begin to wind down.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy your Thursday, wherever you are. Please say prayer for the seventy people who have gathered here for a training institute on the period of mystagogy in the RCIA.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Mystagogy in Lansing

Hello everyone. Well, I have been complaining about the wet and overcast Chicago weather for a number of weeks. Now we are in the middle of a heat wave, with heat advisories posted for the Chicago area. It is supposed to be in the low 90's today. The sun is blazing in the sky—it is just plain hot out there. 

I am headed to the diocese of Lansing, Michigan tomorrow. I will be one of the presenters at a two-day institute co-sponsored by the North American Forum on the Catechumenate. Our focus is on the period of mystagogy in the RCIA. This is one of the most problematic periods because it is the period that follows the celebration of the sacraments of initiation. Many RCIA ministers complain that the newly initiated see the celebration of the initiation sacraments as a kind of graduation ceremony from "the program." The Church envisions an intense post-baptismal period during which the community and the newly initiated "deepen their grasp of the paschal mystery." So for the next three days, approximately 80 RCIA ministers from as far away as Hawaii will gather at Bethany House in the diocese of Lansing. Here's a photo I found of the chapel there. I'm looking forward to praying here.

One of the great mystagogs in Church history is Cyril of Jerusalem. 

Here is one of my favorite sections from one of his mystagogical homilies. He would have preached this homily on one of the weekdays of the Easter Octave. His audience would have included those baptized a few days earlier:
"I long ago desired, true-born and dearly beloved children of the Church, to discourse to you concerning these spiritual and heavenly Mysteries; but knowing well, that seeing is far more persuasive than hearing, I waited till this season; that finding you more open to the influence of my words from this your experience, I might take and lead you to the brighter and more fragrant meadow of this present paradise."

I'll take a along my camera to Lansing tomorrow and share some of the experience with you as it unfolds. I hope your Tuesday is a good one. Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Be Not Afraid - Makes Me Squirm and Makes Me Cry

Hello everybody. I hope you enjoyed your Father's Day weekend. I had a nice conversation with my Dad yesterday. He shared some good news. A cousin of mine purchased one of those lottery scratch tickets in Massachusetts and won one million dollars. Pretty cool, huh?

I'd like to share something that occurred at Sunday Mass yesterday in my parish. The Gospel reading was the story of Jesus calming the seas. The music director chose the song Be Not Afraid for the communion procession. I really haven't sung this piece at Mass in a number of years. I remember when this music first debuted in the the mid 1970's. As a classically trained musician, I have to be frank and say that when I was asked to play this piece at Mass, it was always a source of frustration. It's rhythmic structure is close to impossible for the assembly to sing accurately. I remember spending time practicing this piece so that each sixteenth note would be articulated accurately. I followed the rhythmic structure as it was written. I can say that every time I played this piece in the many parishes in which I have played, no assembly ever sang it the same way. The same was true yesterday. It's just one of those things that makes me squirm—following and singing the rhythmic structure with a trained musical eye and having everyone else just sing it the way they always have.

Now for the other side of the Be Not Afraid story. The first wedding that took place in my immediate family occurred in September of 1979. My youngest sister, Joanne, was in high school at the time, and she was asked to sing Be Not Afraid at the wedding. Joanne's singing was pure. The clarity of her tone was so pleasing to the ear. This piece became a kind of "family song" for the Galipeau's since the day of that wedding. It has been sung at family funerals and weddings since then. My sister Joanne was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in the early 1980's. For the next twenty years, she lived with the disease that would eventually claim her life. One of the saddest things for me was watching her lose the ability to sing. A few days before she died, I put my head on the pillow next to hers and asked her if she wanted to sing with me. We sang a few Christmas songs together. Even though no sound was coming from Joanne, she mouthed the words to Do You Hear What I Hear and O Come, All Ye Faithful. I think that the words "O come, let us adore him, O come let us adore him, O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord" were the last words she sang on this earth before joining her own voice to the heavenly choirs.

At Joanne's funeral, of course, we sang Be Not Afraid. Particularly poignant were the words, "Come, follow me, and I will give you rest." It just so happened that the sister whose wedding Joanne had sung at so many years before had a recording of Joanne's solo at that wedding. My sister brought a cassette player to the grave on the day we committed Joanne's ashes to the earth. So, there we all stood at Joanne's grave. My sister hit the "play" button on the cassette player and Joanne's voice began to sing out in the pure tone we all remembered so well: "know that I am with you through it all." It just so happened that the battery power was wearing down, and so Joanne's voice was a little deeper toward the end of the song, which brought us all a good chuckle.

That sister at whose wedding Joanne sang Be Not Afraid was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year. 

So, yesterday at Mass, when the introduction to the song was played, you can imagine the memories that came flooding across my mind and heart. I was immediately transported back to that wedding in 1979. I relived the time I sang the carols with Joanne as she lay dying. I was back in the second pew at St. Charles in Woburn, Massachusetts on the February day when we celebrated Joanne's life. And I was praying so hard for my sister with cancer, that she would not be afraid. My heart was lifted to heaven, asking the Lord Jesus to send healing and comfort on all the sick.

I guess I just wanted to share all of this with you because it shows me once again the power that music holds. There are some people that would like to see songs like Be Not Afraid jettisoned from the repertoire because of their "hard-to-sing-accurately" rhythmic structure. Some may think these songs have too much of a "pop" feel to them. I'd just like us to be cautious about the hymns and songs that are part of the contemporary Catholic experience. A piece that makes some people squirm can bring other people right to heaven. 

Comments welcome. Gotta Sing, Gotta Pray.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Another Sneak Peek into WLP - Our Art/Production Department

Good day everyone. It is pouring rain here in Chicago this morning. I arrived very early here at our Franklin Park offices to prepare our monthly breakfast for the WLP staff. The aroma of coffee is enticing . . . 

No rainy day can dampen the sense of pride and honor I feel when I think of the staff here at WLP. Today, I'd like to introduce you to the fine professionals who work in our Art/Production Department, capably led by Deb Johnston, our production manager. Here is a photo of the auspicious group:

Seated, from left to right, are Geovanni Morales, Christine Enault, and Tejal Patel. Behind them, from left to right, are Denise Durand, Steve Fiskum, Christine Broquet, and their leader, Deb Johnston.

I remember well a visit my parents made to our offices here at WLP/J.S. Paluch several years ago. They wondered aloud "how it all happens" in publishing. I was able to walk them through several processes that occur here on a regular basis. I described how a piece of music evolves once it arrives through the mail to the editorial department here. First, there is a preliminary review, then (if it passes muster), a more thorough editorial review, which focuses on the musical, theological, and technical merits of the piece. Then the editors move the piece to the music engravers, Steve and Geovanni. I remember watching my parents' faces as Steve showed them how he was able to "engrave" the music electronically. Our engravers and editors work closely together to make sure that the music that eventually arrives in parishes is of the finest quality. People around here grow tired of hearing me say that I believe that WLP is producing the finest choral music for parishes here in the United States and beyond. I don't mind repeating here, because it's the truth! 

Tejal, Denise, Chris E., and Chris B., are talented in many areas, from typesetting to design, all lending their artistic talents and designer "eyes" to the various projects they undertake. Paluch bulletin artwork and texts pass before their capable eyes. WLP's worship resources are produced in this department. Designers work closely with our worship resources editors to ensure that what is being used by the singing and praying Church is of the finest quality. Music is placed on the pages of these resources, as well as hymnals, songbooks, and accompaniments. This department is responsible for collaborating with our marketing and editorial folks in creating electronic versions of much of our music and uploading those pieces to our web site, where our customers can view sample pages and, after having secured a WLP reprint license, can download those resources from their own computers. This busy department divides the responsibilities for book design and layout for our book projects. The J.S. Paluch parish and personal calendars are designed and produced here, as well as the various marketing materials that we use here at WLP to advertise our products.

Baseball rivalries and allegiances abound in this department. They even have a replica of the ivy-covered Wrigley Field Wall. They keep running tallies of the wins and losses of the Chicago Cubs and White Sox teams. 

In addition to all this talent and expertise, these people are simply fun to be around. When I am feeling particularly stressed at any given moment, all I need do is walk down the hall into their department and offer my "hello everybody." It's a guarantee that I will leave that department with a smile on my face, for which I am grateful. What a great group of dedicated professionals. It's a privilege to be able to give you a sneak peek into the Art/Production Department here at WLP. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Sneak Peek into WLP: Our Editorial Team

Hello everybody. It is foggy and overcast today here in Chicago. We are looking forward to summer actually arriving here, with at least a string of days filled with sunshine . . . wait and see.

Over the next few weeks, I will be sharing a sneak peek into WLP with you. I do this with an enormous sense of pride. I have worked here for nearly ten years, nine as worship resources editor and just over a year as associate publisher. The people with whom I work and have the privilege of leading are a group of talented and dedicated professionals. 

Today I would like to introduce you to our editorial team. Pictured here are all but four members of that team. 

Pictured here front row from left to right are:
Maria Elena Rodriguez, Christine Krzystofczyk, Keith Kalemba.
And back row from left to right are:
Mary Beth Kunde-Anderson, Alan Hommerding, Ron Rendek, Mary Brewick, Marcia Lucey, and Mike Novak.

We have one part-time editor, Norma Garcia:

We also have three editors who telecommute. 
Ed Bolduc, who lives in the Atlanta area, is pictured here:

Tom Strickland, who lives in the Denver area, is pictured here:

Peter Kolar, who lives in El Paso, is pictured here on a recent visit to the "home office" with his wife Marianna, and their beautiful daughter Chloe:

What exactly do editors do? I have been asking myself that same question . . . just kidding! 

The music editors' work includes: reviewing new music submissions; collaborating closely with music engravers in creating new octavos (choral music) and revising reprinted octavos as necessary; working with the engravers to create hymnal versions of hymns and songs; editing song books, music books scored for a variety of instruments; editing  the music placed in hymnals and the music sections of our various worship resources. Their work also includes collaborating closely with our recording artists on recording projects. Some of them spend time at recording venues, focusing on the recordings that are included in our Choral Subscription Service. They edit recordings by our various artists, as well as developing and nurturing relationships with artists, composers, and authors. 

Those who work with text and art accomplish a number of important tasks: constructing the Sunday and Weekday sections of our worship resources; working closely with various entities in Washington DC, including the Bishops' Committee on Divine Worship, the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, and ICEL (International Commission on English in the Liturgy). These editors are always busy ushering manuscripts through the "proofing" process. They also work closely with the designers in our art department to choose worthy cover and interior art for their projects. These editors are responsible for creating AIM Magazine, Pastoral Patterns Magazine, as well as special J. S. Paluch parish bulletins. As a matter of fact, much of the work done in the editorial department here at WLP is closely related to the work of our parent company, J. S. Paluch. These editors receive original artwork for bulletins, working closely with the artists. We do not publish a large quantity of books, but when we do, these editors edit and manage those book projects. Some of our editors are responsible for the various art books that we have published over the years. Last year I believe we published about five books, and three of those five were among award-winners announced by the Catholic Press Association. You can see why I am so proud of this group of editors, led by our director of publications, Mary Beth Kunde-Anderson.

These are just some of the people who work so hard for you, the singing and praying Church. If there is anything we can do to serve you better, please do not hesitate to contact us. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Why We Sing

Hello everybody. I hope your Tuesday is a great day for you and your loved ones.

This past Sunday, marking the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, Pope Benedict had this to say:

"It is the hope that arises from the love of Christ that gives us strength to live and to face up to difficulties. That is why we sing as we carry the Blessed Sacrament in procession; we sing and we praise God Who revealed Himself by hiding Himself in the sign of the broken bread. We all need this Bread because the journey towards freedom, justice and peace is long and tiring."

Each week, we receive the bread of heaven. We eat and we drink the Body and Blood of Christ. I don't know about you, but I need the strength that comes from that heavenly food. Why? The pope said it so well: "because the journey towards freedom, justice and peace is long and tiring." 

I think sometimes we can become spiritually obese. Right now I am part of the WeightWatchers at Work program here at WLP. Once again I have had to realize that if I consume more calories than I work off, I will gain weight. I think a parallel can be made with our consumption of the Eucharist. If we eat and drink of the Body and Blood of Christ week after week, but never really work it off, we become spiritually logy and lethargic; spiritually obese. As the Holy Father said, the journey is long and tiring. The Eucharist is our food for this pilgrimage of freedom, justice and peace. Let's remember to work it off! And as we walk that pilgrimage, the reason why we sing is the fact that we have been given this food by our "God Who revealed Himself by hiding Himself in the sign of the broken bread."

Gotta Sing! Gotta Pray!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Your Friendly Neighborhood Liturgical Curmudgeon

Happy Monday everyone. I hope your weekend was a good one. 

Sometimes I find myself sounding like what one of our editors here calls a "liturgical curmudgeon." This blog post is an occasion for one of those times.

A few years ago on the First Sunday of Advent in my parish, someone decided to "rework" the introductory rites. It was not recognizably Catholic. I found myself becoming more and more uncomfortable as the "rites" unfolded. Just after the "let us pray" before the opening prayer, I said a quiet prayer, hoping that at least the opening prayer would be the official text of the liturgy. Unfortunately, it wasn't. It was a prayer that was constructed to fit the themes that had unfolded previously. 

Why get so worked up about something like this? For me, there are two reasons. The primary reason is that these are the texts of the Church. Part of what it means to be Catholic is that we inherit and share a treasury of official liturgical texts. Within these texts is embedded our belief. Liturgy is "first theology." As I like to remind people, if you want to find out what Catholics believe, go to an Easter Vigil. The second reason is a little closer to my heart. You see, I am the only member of my immediate family who does not live within a fifteen minute drive of my parents. They are all in the Boston area. When I go to Mass at St. James here in Chicago, or at any parish around the country—or anywhere in the world, for that matter—it is important to me that I am hearing the same readings and praying the same texts that my parents and family members are praying in their parishes. This is a critical connecting point that links me with those I love. It makes me feel part of a much larger family. When the pope prays the opening prayer at Mass in St. Peter's Basilica on a given Sunday, that is the same opening prayer that my pastor prays at St. James, that my parents' parish priest prays at St. Therese in Billerica, Massachusetts, that the parish priest prays at St. Anthony's Church in New Bedford, Massachusetts (where I was baptized), that priests are praying at tens of thousands of parishes around the world. 

I guess you now understand my uneasiness with what happened in my parish on that First Sunday of Advent a few years ago. Thanks for letting this liturgical curmudgeon do a little venting. I hope your week is a good one. Gotta sing, gotta pray. Comments welcome: just click on the comments link below.

Friday, June 12, 2009

I'm listening . . .

Good day everyone. We awoke to sunshine today for the first time in a long time here in Chicago. Praise God!

As the associate publisher here at World Library Publications, part of my job is to help craft a vision for the future of our company. At the heart of our mission is a dedication and determination to serve the needs of the singing and praying Church. I'd like to ask you a question. As we stand on the threshold of a new translation of the Missale Romanum, and as we recognize that music used in churches across the United States and Canada is from a variety of musical styles, what do you see as the resource needs for the singing and praying Church? I know that readers of this blog represent a wide cross-sampling of the Church. There are those of you who are family members. Some of you are in diocesan leadership positions. Some are full-time church musicians. There are those who are in academia. Some of you are involved in Christian initiation. And there are some who are "in the pews" week after week. I would appreciate any responses you have to this question. I'd like to echo what Frasier Crane would say, in front of his microphone at the Seattle radio station on the TV show Frasier, "I'm listening." This is Doctor Jerry Galipeau, wishing you good spiritual health.

Thanks so much, and let's remember that we gotta sing and we gotta pray.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Beginning with the Magnus Chord Organ

Thanks to Chironomo for responding to an earlier post about the apprenticeship model. He helped me recall a very fond memory. The Christmas that I was in third grade stands out as one of the most memorable for me. Under the tree that year was a small wrapped gift, very light in weight. As was the custom among my five sibling and me, I shook that gift, but it seemed empty. When I inwrapped it, I discovered the best Christmas gift I had–or ever would—receive. There was a piece of paper with my Mom's handwriting on it. It said something like: "Jerry Galipeau will now begin piano lessons with Sister Julie Maria, SND, at St. Charles School in Woburn, Massachusetts." I had been self-taught up until that point on a little Magnus Chord Organ, (picture above) and then a Silvertone organ my parents had purchased at the Sears Surplus store in Boston. I was thrilled. This gift signaled the beginning of what would be an unimaginable journey for me as a third grader—a journey that has led me to this desk—as associate publisher—here at World Library Publications.  Those early years of piano lessons at the convent were just great. I loved practicing (and driving my sisters, who were trying to watch their soap operas, crazy—"Jerry, play softer!!!) and completing book after book of those piano courses. I will never foget playing "We Gather Together" on the ancient Hook and Hastings tracker pipe organ at St. Charles Church for the School's Thanksgiving Day Mass (church exterior pictured below). I was in fifth grade and remember to this day how thrilling that was. As the motto of St. Julie Billiart, the foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur says, "Ah! qu'il est bon le bon Dieu!" (Oh, how good is the good God!)

Today, surrounded by a staff here at WLP (many of whom are very talented musicians), I am grateful for the gift of music, for my parents' great gift of piano lessons, for Sister Julie Maria, SND, and for the gift that music has been in my own life. Feel free to share your own stories by hitting the comments button below. "Anonymous" comments are most welcome. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Gearing Up for the NPM Convention

I hope you are enjoying another Spring day. It is raining once again here in Chicago. It has been an unusually rainy Spring for us here in the Midwest.

As you can imagine, for a Catholic music publisher, this is high preparation season for us. The national convention of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians is just around the corner. It is being held in Rosemont, Illinois, just up the road, a few miles from our offices here at J. S. Paluch/World Library Publications. We approach the NPM convention in a number of ways. First of all, we sponsor speakers who give master classes and workshops at the event. I have been asked to present two workshops; one on the challenges and opportunities the new translation of the Missale Romanum will present to us; and the other on music for the Liturgy of the Hours. We are sponsoring several other presenters, including Thomas Jefferson, Paul Tate, Charles Thatcher, Peter Kolar, Rev. Richard Fragomeni, Jennifer Pascual, Steven Janco, Norma Garcia, Rev. Jim Marchionda, OP, Lee Gwodz, Jeffrey Honore, Mary Beth Kunde-Anderson, Jennifer Kerr-Budziak, Lynn Trapp, Ed Bolduc, Paul French, and Steve Warner. Some of our performing artists will be there as well, including Meredith Augustin, John Angotti, Aaron Thompson, and Noelle Garcia. We are also co-sponsoring an event at St. James Episcopal Cathedral, featuring Rory Cooney, Terry Donohoo, Paul Tate, and Deanna Light. As you can see, this is no small undertaking on behalf of Catholic music publishers.

We are also given the opportunity to present a choral music showcase. I can proudly say that WLP is publishing the best choral music for Catholic parishes today. I have peppered this blog post with photos of some of WLP's dedicated staff members from each of our departments, chipping in to help create the choral packets for the music showcase at NPM. We publish music in a variety of styles. We hope that the fine music that our composers create will help enhance the liturgical experience of the Church. We hope that what we do will deepen people's relationship with the Lord Jesus, the eternal Song of the Father. 

The NPM convention is a great opportunity for musicians, clergy, and liturgists to gather to learn, to share, and to make music. It helps all of us realize that we gotta sing and we gotta pray.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Nurtured through Song and Prayer . . . Memories Kindled . . .

Hello everybody. I was able to upload some photos from my weekend in New York. The great folks at the Archdiocese of New York had an exhibit area in the venerable halls of St. Joseph Seminary.  Here are a few photos of my modest WLP exhibit:

The chapel at St. Joseph's is stunning. As I said before, the acoustics were wonderful: no carpet, no padded pews or benches; just a delightful place in which to sing and pray. Here's a not-so-great photo.

The seating is arranged antiphonally. This chapel reminded me of the seminary chapel at St. John's Seminary in Brighton (Boston) Massachusetts. I was a seminarian there from 1976 through 1984. I earned a B.A. in Philosophy with a concentration in Fine Arts/Music in 1980, and earned the Master of Divinity in 1984. Although I was not ordained, I will always be grateful for the education I received at St. John's. Here is a photo of the chapel at St. John's: 

I loved making music and praying in this beautiful space. There were days when I would spend hours practicing the piano in this chapel. The pipe organ would wheeze and groan, but the sound could be magnificent. Chanting the psalms and canticles each morning and evening with approximately 160 other men studying for the priesthood could be breathtaking. So many memories. I am somewhat focused on my experience at St. John's today. Had I been ordained to the priesthood, today would have been my 25th anniversary. Hard to believe that so much time has passed. God had other plans in store for me, and I will spend this day with a grateful heart; grateful first and foremost for my baptism, and for the great gift of music, which was nurtured during those eight years at St. John's. To all priests out there who are marking anniversaries around this time, ad multos annos! And for those washed in the blood of the Lamb in baptism, I echo that same greeting, ad multos annos!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Apprenticeship and Church Musicians

Happy Monday everyone. I am back in Chicago today, after having spent a wonderful few days in the Archdiocese of New York. I presented the keynote at the Adult Faith Formation conference at St. Joseph Seminary, pictured above. The day began with a concelebrated Mass in the seminary chapel. The choir was led by Dale Lamb. Their sound was terrific and filled the space beautifully. I took a few photos of the chapel, which I will upload either later today or tomorrow. I was proud that WLP's own Peter Kolar's piece Healing Balm was sung at the Mass.

The keynote presentation focused on the model of apprenticeship in Christian formation. I gave a similar presentation at NPM convention last summer. The challenge for all of us in ministry, especially in liturgy and music, is to embrace the model of apprenticeship. I often ask myself the question: "Have I made sure that I have apprenticed someone in music ministry?" Those of us who have been given the gift of musical talent and have chosen to use that gift in service to the Church have an added responsibility: we need to nurture the musicals gifts that have been given to young people who will serve the Church in the future. This model of apprenticeship comes to us from Ad Gentes, the document on the Church's mission activity from the Second Vatican Council. That document deals specifically with the Church's vision for the catechumenate, but is helpful for all who are in ministerial roles in the Church. 

Here is the pertinent section:

"Those who have received from God the gift of faith in Christ, through the Church, should be admitted with liturgical rites to the catechumenate which is not a mere exposition of dogmatic truths and norms of morality, but a period of formation in the whole Christian life, an apprenticeship of sufficient duration, during which the disciples will be joined to Christ their teacher (Ad Gentes 14)."

At the NPM convention, I posited that we might rework this paragraph when looking at the apprenticeship model for Church musicians. It could look something like this:

Those who have received from God the gift of musicianship, through the Church, should be admitted to an apprenticeship for pastoral musicians, which is not a mere exposition of music theory, pedagogy, or performance, but a period of formation in the whole of pastoral musicianship, an apprenticeship of sufficient duration during which the musician is formed into a faith-filled and truly pastoral musician. 

If you have a story of how you have apprenticed someone in ministry, feel free to share that here. 

Remember, if "we gotta sing" and "we gotta pray," we have the responsibility to form young people in ministry.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Liturgical Ministers - Musicians

Hello everyone. I am in New York City for the annual meeting of the Music Publishers Association. It is rainy and cold here, but the city is so alive and vibrant. I am presenting a keynote tomorrow for catechists here in the Archdiocese of New York.

I just wanted to clarify a point I made the other day about plans for catechesis for the implementation of the new translation of the Missale Romanum. What I mentioned were the plans that are being put in place just for the people of the Archdiocese of Miami. This is not the plan as to be rolled out nationally. This was just the plan for the local church in Miami. And when I said liturgical ministers, I know that the folks in Miami meant the musicians as part of that group.

I will fill you in on the meeting I am attending today as well as the catechetical day tomorrow when I return to Chicago. Gotta sing, gotta pray.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

WLP Wins Three CPA Awards

Hello everyone. I hope you are having a great day. We received some great news yesterday. WLP (World Library Publications) won three book awards which are presented annually by the Catholic Press Association. 

Mysteries of the Rosary, by Michael McGrath, OSFS, won second place in the category "Design and Production." Congratulation to Mickey, to Christine Krzystofczyk, the editor, and to Christine Enault, the designer.

The Impact of the RCIA: Stories, Reflections, Challenges won third place in the "Professional Books" category. I am so proud of the fifteen people who authored the essays in this book.

Misa, Mesa, y Musa, Volume 2: Liturgy in the Hispanic Church, by Kenneth Davis, O.F.M., Conv., won an honorable mention in this same category.

I want you all to know how very proud I am of the staff here at WLP. It is an honor and privilege to lead such a wonderful group of talented people.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Seven Gifts - Let's Use Them!

Happy Monday to all. Raining here in Chicago today, but I am glad to be out of the heat and humidity I experienced this weekend in Miami. A short post this morning as I catch up on work here at WLP. I'd like you to consider the prayer that is prayed over those to be confirmed as the sacrament of confirmation is celebrated:

All-powerful God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
by water and the Holy Spirit
you freed your sons and daughters from sin
and gave them new life.
Send your Holy Spirit upon them
to be their Helper and Guide.
Give them the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of right judgment and courage,
the spirit of knowledge and reverence.
Fill them with the spirit of wonder and awe in your presence.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

I don't know about you, but when I look at this prayer, I realize how much I need to use the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit every day of my life. And these gifts were planted in my heart on the day of my confirmation, which was May 13, 1972 at St. Charles Church in Woburn, Massachusetts. You know, I read lots of materials about management and leadership styles. In order to lead effectively, I believe that I need to draw on the gifts of the Spirit. All I need do is cultivate them and use them as I try to lead the people that have been entrusted to my care here at World Library Publications. I have the seven gifts posted in my office as a daily reminder of the power and potential of this sacrament in my own life.

I hope that you take the time during this "season" of Pentecost to reflect on the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit and how you can cultivate these gifts in your own relationships and in your ministry. Here is a wonderful piece to ponder: Come, Holy Spirit, Come by Jolanda Robertson. Enjoy!