Back at the "home office" here in Franklin Park, and so grateful for a wonderful week in Bavaria.
The pipe organ is my first instrument. I studied jazz organ as a child (yes, you can just picture me, the nine-year-old playing the organ at the front of the organ store at the suburban mall; playing songs like "Sonny" and "Midnight Cowbow" and "Tico Tico" to the delight of the hundreds of mall shoppers).
When I was in fifth grade, I played the organ at Mass for the very first time; I played "We Gather Together" at the school's Thanksgiving Mass; played an old and wonderful Hook and Hastings tracker organ in my home parish, Saint Charles, in Woburn Massachusetts, the interior of which is pictured here:
Also in the fifth grade I began to learn Bach and from then until my senior year in high school I kept up with the jazz and pop stuff, as well as the classical literature. During my first few years in the seminary, I would get on the trains and buses in Boston and make my way over to Sait Paul's choir school in Cambridge, for my 7:30 A.M. Thursday morning organ lesson. This is where I learned how to hone my skills at accompanying hymns and chant. The last two years of seminary college, I was a piano performance student at Boston College. All during this time, I continue to play the organ at the seminary and Archdiocesan Masses in Boston.
After fifteen years in parishes with fine pipe organs, I began my work here at WLP in 1999. Not having a full- or part-time "gig" anymore has meant that I have slowly veered away from organ playing. Most parishes where I substitute, or most conferences and other venues where I provide the music have pianos, which I love to play as well. But, I have really missed playing the organ. This is why last week was such a thrill for me. Strapping on the old organ shoes and taking out the Bach and discovering that, for me, organ playing is like riding a bicycle, was so satisfying. There were only about 23 priests on the retreat, yet their voices were strong and filled the chapel at the abbey. And I discovered once again that the foundational support for the congregational singing provided by the pipe organ is really unequalled. It was such a great re-discovery for me. Not quite ready to go out and get a part-time organ playing position somwhere, but I was tempted.
This publishing house continues to be a haven of activity as we prepare resources for the upcoming implementation of the new translation. I have returned with renewed energy for our mission to serve the needs of the singing, praying, and initiating Church.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.