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.

1 comment:

Chironomo said...

One of the actually excellent statements of Vatican II, although this is how it had been done for hundreds of years before. I began my work in the church assisting the Organist with putting music in folders, later assisting him with organ tuning and hand-copying responses for the choir (the church didn't have a mimeo machine at that time). In eigth grade I began organ lessons and cantoring for the early Sunday Mass. By my Junior year of HS I was playing for two Masses a weekend and singing with the 5-member schola at the principal Mass each weekend. It was a natural decision to continue this as a career.