Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Thousand Thanks

A thousand thanks to those of you who helped fund the campaign I mentioned earlier this week. We exceeded our goal and Fr. Ed Foley and I will be working on a way to add some more pastoral resources to the shipment of hymnals to the sisters in Namibia. We have ended the GoFundMe campaign.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A Little Project to Help the Sisters of Namibia Sing

Tuesday greetings from the Midwest, where the weather has turned sharply cooler today.

Today I did something that I have never done.

Fr. Ed Foley, Capuchin, recently contacted me and the subject line of his email was "begging." I knew I was in trouble right off the bat!

He recently returned from three weeks of teaching in Namibia and had spent considerable time there with the Missionary Benedictine Sisters of Tutzing. He noticed that they were using hymnals (words-only) from the 1960's. He wondered if perhaps we at WLP and J.S. Paluch might be interested in donating 125 hymnals and some accompaniments to them so that they could have a better music resource in their hands. We decided to do so, but the shipping costs were just not possible for us to cover.

So . . . Ed and I have started a GoFundMe campaign to raise those funds. Would you consider donating? Here is the link.

And here are some photos Ed sent me from his time with this wonderful group of sisters. This one is a bit of a Where's Waldo, only here it is "Where's Ed?"

Here is a photo of worshipers dancing and singing at Mass.

And finally, a lovely photo of one of the sisters holding a child.

Please consider a donation to help these sisters as they sing their praises and thanks to God.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, June 27, 2016

NCCHM and Peter Kolar in Concert

Monday greetings on a beautifully sunny day here in the Midwest.

On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, I attended the 25th annual meeting of the NCCHM (National Council for Catholic Hispanic Ministry) at Catholic Theological Union (my alma mater) here in Chicago. These were three exhausting days for me, chiefly due to the fact that, although I studied and spoke Spanish in high school and college, my Spanish language skills are woefully lacking these days. More than half of the presentations were in Spanish; I was the only non-Spanish speaker in the room of over 70 people. I did catch most of what was being said, but the intense concentration was really challenging for me. There were presentations on the so-called "Francis Effect," panel discussions about the past, present, and future of Hispanic/Latino/a ministry and presence in the United States, as well as a great presentation on technology and the Hispanic/Latino/a Church. Members of the WLP staff strongly recommended that I attend; they felt that I needed this kind of intense exposure to the discussion about Hispanic/Latino/a ministry here in the U.S. and they were absolutely right. 

I came away with a sense that there needs to be a real paradigm shift here in the United States; a movement away from the "Hispanic Ministry Office" model in dioceses toward a much more holistic model, in which we see ourselves as one Church whose offices are not separated into language or ethnic groups. There simply needs to be several offices in dioceses, but each office is responsible for the whole Church, with its multiple layers of language and ethnicity.

I was also challenged to examine our mission here at WLP: "to serve and inspire the singing, praying, initiating church." Who is the church to whom we minister? It cannot be a narrow definition, but needs to be so much broader as we discover ways to serve and inspire. 

On Friday morning, the participants gathered and became a part of a procession with the Quinto Encuentro Cross leading us. The Fifth Encuentro (encounter) will take place in Grapevine, TX in the summer of 2018; much has already been done to prepare for this important event, and so much more will take place. I took a little video during the procession.

WLP's Peter Kolar presented a concert for the NCCHM members on Thursday night, as well as a concert here in the Archdiocese of Chicago on Friday night at Saint Viator Parish on the Northwest side of Chicago. 

Here is the interior of Saint Viator.

Peter was joined by several musicians who minister here in the Archdiocese of Chicago, including the amazingly talented Kate Williams, pictured here with Peter.

It was simply a delightful evening of music, prayer, and praise. When Peter played the first and third movements from Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata, the audience just sat and watched and listened in amazement, me included! It was extraordinary. Thank you, Peter. Peter's latest album is Variations.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Privileged to Have Celebrated with the Community of Saint Cecilia in Boston

Wednesday greetings from Chicago, where we are expecting some pretty severe weather during the day. We are also having our WLP monthly meeting today and our managers are putting together a little indoor picnic for our team members. Should be fun.

This past Sunday, I went to Mass at Saint Cecilia Parish in downtown Boston. Richard Clark is the director of music there. Richard has been working hard at introducing the Communion Antiphons from The Roman Missal to his parish. Richard has composed these settings and we publish several of them. You can learn more about Richard here, as well as preview and listen to the antiphons we have published.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I arrived for Mass on Sunday. Downtown Boston is probably the most confusing place to drive in the United States. After parking, I arrived about ten minutes late for Mass. The church was nearly at capacity, and I sat way in the back with the young moms and dads and their toddlers and infants. My view:

This is a beautiful church, for sure. I entered while the Responsorial Psalm was being sung and the singing of the assembly was splendid, as was the musical leadership.

As the communion procession began, a soprano and a mezzo-soprano sang the Laudamus Te from Antonio Vivaldi's Gloria, III, RV 589, III. Just lovely.

Then came the communion antiphon. The music is all contained in an insert in the parish bulletin; here's the cover of the bulletin.

And here's the page with the communion antiphon.

The text of the antiphon: "I am the Good Shepherd, and I lay down my life for my sheep, says the Lord." I found the melody to be simple, accessible, and intuitive. I needed the program to sing the antiphon two times; after that, I put the program down and was able to sing it from memory. The verses alternated between a cantor and the choir singing in four-part harmony. I was a little disappointed that the assembly did not sing the antiphon with as much vigor as they sang the other music at the Mass; but this is understandable since most folks were standing in line for communion and did not have the program with them. Also, the introduction of the proper communion antiphons is still a work in progress. I believe it takes years for this practice to really become a part of the music at Mass. This was a great example of "singing the Mass," rather than "singing at Mass."

I was so happy to have attended Saint Cecilia's. The music is quite eclectic, with a mixture of chant, hymnody, contemporary settings of some of the Mass parts, and splendid organ pieces. I wish I had been there in time to hear Richard play the prelude, the Adagio from Widor's Symphony No. 5. There is a pipe organ and piano near the sanctuary where the cantor and choir are located. Most of the music is led from there. Richard played the final hymn from the mighty Smith & Gilbert pipe organ, which is located in the loft (4 manuals, 50 ranks, 2,926 pipes). I was captivated by his postlude: Trois Pi├ęces, iii. Litanies by Jehan Alain. My little video.

Very, very good music program at Saint Cecilia's, for sure. When I got back to the office yesterday morning, I talked to the staff about proposing Richard as a speaker at musicians' conferences. He has tons of experience and lots to offer in a profoundly pastoral way. Thanks to Richard and the people of Saint Cecilia's in Boston for feeding my soul.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

May choirs of angels . . . Rest in Peace Steven Schaubel

Tuesday greetings from the Midwest.

I spent the last five days visiting with family in New England; my nephew and Godson's graduation-from-college party was held on Saturday, It was good to be with family in that beautiful part of God's creation. While there, I drove by the church in which I received my First Holy Communion and was confirmed "Jeremiah." (Some of you will know the little story behind why I chose "Jeremiah" as my Confirmation name.) Here is a photo I took yesterday of the church's exterior. This is Saint Charles Borromeo in Woburn, Massachusetts.

This morning here at WLP, we received the news of the death of composer Steven Schaubel.

Many of his pieces have appeared in our worship resources for many years. Read his obituary. It is a fine history of and a tribute to a gifted musician and talented composer.

I'll leave you with this. Steven adapted the In Paradisum text to Londonderry Air. When listening to it, please remember Steve and his family in your prayers.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Louisville: Conversion and a Magnificent Baptism Font at Saint Agnes

Tuesday greetings from the warm Midwest.

I am still in a state of shock and grief over the events that occurred in Orlando. As you may know, I lived in Orlando for seven years before moving to Chicago. My heart goes out to the LGBT community there and all who are suffering.

On Saturday, I spent the day in Louisville, Kentucky, presenting a day of reflection for RCIA ministers: "Conversion: Theirs and Ours." I think the day worked quite well. The entire morning was spent helping those gathered focus on the movements of evangelization and conversion in their own lives. I so appreciated how these good folks entered into the process that I had prepared. Watching them engage in a "companion walk" throughout the property of Saint Agnes Parish was heartwarming, not to mention the fact that it was 91 degrees!

I was able to sneak over to Saint Agnes Church during one of the breaks; I was told that it had a magnificent baptism font and, well, you know me . . .

I was not disappointed. Here is the exterior of the church.

The font is located just as one enters the church from the foyer. Notice the small labyrinth embedded in the terrazzo floor.

Here are a few more photos I took.

Just to the left of the center door you can see a piece of art depicting the baptism of Jesus by John in the Jordan. To the right of that same door is a description of the font itself:

It tells the reader that the sides of the font were created using the old communion rail. There is a place for the baptism of infants and, obviously, a large pool for the baptism of children and adults.

The holy oils are stored in the base of the font, below the area where infants are baptized.

The water bubbles up from the smaller section for infants and pours into the pool. The sound in that empty church was so calming.

In the foyer, I found this, a very nice series of photos of those who were either baptized or received into Full Communion at the Easter Vigil of 2016.

Obviously lots of good things going on at this parish, which is in the care of the Passionists.

I really loved being in Louisville once again, and seeing this font was the icing on the cake for me.

Feeling love for and gratitude to all the dedicated RCIA ministers and Archdiocesan leaders in the Archdiocese of Louisville.

At 11:30 this morning, we at the J.S. Paluch Company and World Library Publications will be joining together for a "Prayer for Orlando." Please join your hearts to ours.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Filled with Grief

So filled with grief today.

Fr. Jim Martin's video is what I would like to have as my post today.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Headed to Louisville to Finish Up a Whirlwind Week

Friday greetings.

It has been a whirlwind week for me. On Tuesday, I flew to Los Angeles for meetings with some Archdiocesan personnel, flew back here on Wednesday. Yesterday, it was a trip back to O'Hare to pick up Steve and Michele Warner, who were returning to the United States following the tour of the Notre Dame Folk Choir through Ireland and Scotland. Loved hearing their fascinating stories.

Today, we have OSHA training here at the offices. Because we are a production plant here in Franklin Park (parish bulletins, AIM Magazine, Pastoral Patterns, Palabras Pastorales, some songbooks, and all of our WLP octavos are printed here), we need to comply with OSHA regulations, so every few years everyone attends a training session. I always find it fascinating. I learn more about hazardous liquids than I really need to know!

This afternoon, it is back to O'Hare for a flight to Louisville, Kentucky. I am leading a Day of Reflection for RCIA ministers there in the Archdiocese tomorrow. It's called The Conversion Journey: "Theirs" and "Ours." This should be an interesting day. The director of the catechumenate for the Archdiocese, my friend and colleague Maureen Larison, felt strongly that the RCIA ministers in the Archdiocese needed a day during which they reflected on their own journeys of conversion, then put those journeys in dialogue with the ministry of initiation that is focused on cultivating the conversion journeys of catechumens and candidates. I think this is a great idea. Should be interesting to see how the day unfolds. I am approaching this by first looking at Church documents and taking cues about our own conversion from the content of those documents. There will be plenty of reflection time. In the afternoon we will then take what we did in the morning and look at the pivotal conversion and discernment points in the RCIA itself.

And so, my week. I fly back home to Chicago tomorrow night.

I hope your weekend is a good one.

When I went out on my front porch this morning, this caught my eye. We had a series of thunderstorms move through the city overnight and one of the leaves on the caladium plants in the flower boxes "caught" some of the rain. Pondered the sheer beauty of this for a few minutes before heading to the train.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Gift Of Life: Wow!

Monday greetings. It's a glorious day here in the Midwest. Thinking about and praying for those in the path of tropical storm Colin.

Because of my own travel schedule over the past many weeks, I have not gone to Mass at my parish, Old Saint Patrick's. So I returned "home" yesterday. The music and the preaching was just so darn good.

What made the preaching good? Confidence of the preacher. Vulnerability of the preacher. Creativity of the preacher. Challenges posed.

What made the music good? Confident leadership. Engaged assembly. I was provided the music for every note I was asked to sing; it was such an uplifting pleasure to sing every note with those around me who were singing with full voices.

As I listened to the scriptures for yesterday's Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, my mind went back thirty years. Thirty years ago, on that same Sunday (it was June 8th that year), I was privileged to be Godfather to one of my many Godchildren at Mass in the parish that day. It was the first time we ever fully immersed a baby; I will never forget it. I was the music and liturgy director at the parish in Florida and had become "adopted" by a family in the parish. I was so homesick for my own family up in Massachusetts. I will always be grateful to the O'Brien family for their kindness, warmth, and love. Their youngest daughter, my Goddaughter Bridie, was baptized that day.

The scriptures recounting the raising to new life of two children inspired me to write a simple song for Bridie's baptism thirty years ago: Gift of Life. The family had this made for me a few weeks later. Yes, I was once that young!

The refrain: "Pour out your gift of life on this child you have chosen; pour out your gift of life that this child may rise to newness of your life."

Interestingly enough, when I posted this on Facebook yesterday, Bridie's sister commented. Bridie is married to an Air Force pilot and they are currently living in Korea. Yesterday, thirty years after Bridie's own baptism on the Tenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Bridie's and her husband's third child, Michael Patrick, was baptized. Wow!

Gift of Life.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Rev. Robert Reed Named Auxiliary Bishop of Boston

Woke up this morning to the great news that my long-time friend, Fr. Bob Reed, has been named by Pope Francis as an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Boston.

Bob and I spent time together in the seminary in the 1970's and he became a family friend. This is good news for the Church. My prayers go out to Bishop-elect Reed.

Every time I watch Bob on, I come away with the sense that here is a man who makes me filled with joy about being Catholic. Just the kind of person we need as a shepherd.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Drawing Closer to God by Brother Mickey McGrath

Such an exciting day here at WLP.

Three new books just arrived, "hot off the presses," as they say.

I'd like to highlight one here.

Drawing Closer to God is a new coloring book by Brother Mickey McGrath.

The text on the back cover: "Coloring can be a relaxing and meditative activity for people of all ages, and this book offers a unique way to pray while doing so. Opposite each image is a simple suggestion of when it might speak to your soul most clearly ('When your broken heart needs courage,' 'When new worlds open up before you') along with a bit of encouraging text and a blank space to journal or sketch. Brother Mickey's iconic Holy Spirit dove is there too, to offer an extra little bit of wisdom and insight!"

This coloring book is, in two words, "SO COOL!"

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.