Thursday has dawned bright and sunny here in Chicago. As August unfolds, I am more and more grateful for the warmth and light of these days of summer in the Midwest.
Yesterday I had a conversation with a priest whom I have known since the 1980's. He was recently re-assigned as pastor of a new parish, a poor parish in the city. The new parish has been in a steady decline for the past ten years or so. He told me there were many reasons for the decline: poor pastoral leadership, bickering among the members of the parish staff, poor decisions made in the areas of liturgy and music, among others. This priest is a man I have respected over the years; his drive and zeal are infectious. He was calling me to ask about purchasing 350 Voices as One Volume Two hymnals. He and his music director feel that the students in the parish's thriving Catholic school need music like the music found in that hymnal. They feel that the students need to have an experience of the liturgy that is filled with life and engages them on many levels.
Two things struck me about the conversation. The first is a reminder of just how hard our priests work to bring new life into communities that may have experienced decline. Going from a vibrant parish to one that seems lifeless is such a daunting task, but this priest has decided to be "all in." What a tremendous gift this man will be to this parish as the years unfold.
The second thing that struck me was the fact that the parish staff is focusing on serving the youngest among them through a renewal of their liturgical life and their singing at Mass. Starting at the heart of Catholic life seems to me to be a good starting point, don't you think?
We are doing everything we can as a company to help this priest with his request. It is so gratifying to work in a place that doesn't look at every request from every parish in the same way. I am so proud of my staff for figuring out ways to support this poor parish and this great priest. Good way to start the day.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.