Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Visiting Saint Patrick's Cathedral in New York City and Capturing a Special Moment on the Staten Island Ferry

Happy Wednesday.

One more post about last week's trip to the Northeast. I had been so looking forward to going to Saint Patrick's Cathedral in New York, most specifically to see the scrubbed exterior and the refurbished and cleaned interior. I was not disappointed.

I attended the cathedral's 9:00 A.M. Mass on Sunday. I was so glad to be handed a worship program so that every single piece of assembly music was accessible to me. In such a cavernous space, the singing of the assembly gets a little lost as it floats upward. The cantor was excellent, as was the organ playing; crisp and with lots of energy, which was refreshing. I thought the celebrant's celebratory style was rather wooden, until he began his homily, which was one of the best and most challenging I have heard in years. He talked about the challenge to bring the poor into our own lives; to pay attention to the dignity of every human person, especially the poor. He was so animated during the homily. He spoke of his own personal experiences in Calcutta with Mother Teresa. One could have heard a pin drop in the cathedral as he shared these stories a week before her canonization.

This weekend would have marked the 53rd birthday of my dear youngest sister, Joanne, who died over fifteen years ago from complications from multiple sclerosis. I lit a candle in her memory at the side altar honoring Saint Elizabeth Seton. My sister, before her illness became so debilitating, worked with and taught elementary school children, so this was the appropriate place to light a candle.

The traditional cardinal's hats, the galeros, have been moved in Saint Patrick's. They hang much closer to the assembly now, surrounding the area around the sanctuary. Here's a photo I took of two of the galeros. You can see how beautifully restored the interior is; it used to seem so dark and gloomy, with years of soot and dust covering the ceiling and walls.

Of course, I was interested in the baptism font, which has its own altar, to the left of the main altar.

The font itself is illuminated by lights affixed to the brass "canopy" over the font. This is pretty stunning.

It must be something to behold when a baby is baptized in this font, with all that light flooding down.

It was a wonderful trip to New York City. The tourist part of me was thrilled to go to Coney Island, to take a twenty mile bike round around the edges of Manhattan, and to visit the 9-11 memorial.

Most memorable was the trip on the Staten Island Ferry, out to the island and back (and it's free!) The timing could not have been more perfect. I hope you enjoy this little video I was able to capture as the ferry passed the Statue of Liberty.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Drenched Yesterday and Singing the Seasons in New York City Last Week

Tuesday greetings.

Never a dull moment around here. Yesterday, I went to O'Hare to pick up Steve Warner, director emeritus of the Notre Dame Folk Choir. Steve was returning from Ireland where he and his wife Michele will be moving in late September. We had planned a meeting and a farewell reception for Steve here, replete with scones and tea. Once in my office, the skies opened, lightning and thunder surrounded our building and the torrential rains were unrelenting. In the middle of it all, our building's fire alarm went off. There was nothing we could do but evacuate the building in the middle of the torrential downpour. I was the only VP on the premises, so I had to put my "take charge" hat on. Unfortunately, I didn't have a "take charge" umbrella with me as I tried to help folks evacuate the building. We never did find out what exactly triggered the alarm, but four firetrucks and an ambulance arrived. Keith Kalemba of our staff snapped this picture of a very soggy me. Not very flattering, but all in a day's work, I guess.

We were able to return to the building and celebrate Steve and Michele's farewell. We were all pretty drenched.

Back to last week. After the wonderful episcopal ordination in Boston, I traveled to New York City for WLP's Sing the Seasons! Choral Reading Session at Saint Francis of Assisi in Manhattan. Here are some photos I took. This is a simply beautiful church.

It was so heartwarming to hear WLP's fine choral music come alive in a such a beautiful setting.

By the way, just in case you want to have a virtual experience of our Sing the Seasons! music, just visit our Sing the Seasons! Web Site. You can see some photos and watch a short video of yours truly in action! Also, feel free to click on the link "Sing the Seasons! Music List," then on "2016." There you will find sample pages and sound clips of all the music we sang this year throughout the United States. Feel free to place an order, too!

I will share more of my experience in New York City tomorrow, including my visit to the newly refurbished Saint Patrick's Cathedral.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, August 29, 2016

"All I can be . . . " . . . A New Bishop

Monday greetings from Chicago.

Last Wednesday was a wonderful day. I had the privilege of attending the episcopal ordination of Mark O'Connell and Bob Reed at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston, pictured here.

I had last been there in 1983, playing the organ for the ordination class of the men who were a year ahead of me in the seminary. I thought the day would have a bittersweet taste for me, since I was never ordained but, to the contrary, my heart was filled with nothing but gratitude and joy for the Church of Boston and especially for my friend, now Bishop Bob Reed. The singing of the Litany of the Saints was quite moving as the two men were prostrate on the floor of the sanctuary.

The music was lead by the Saint Paul Boy's and Men's Choir of Cambridge, Massachusetts. This photo, taken by one of the official photographers, caught a wonderful moment.

If you have never been to the ordination of a bishop, there is one particular moment that stands out, for me at least. Following the Prayer after Communion, the entire assembly joins in singing Holy God, We Praise Thy Name. And the newly ordained bishops move through the assembly, offering their blessing to all in attendance. Clapping and spontaneous cheers erupt as each new bishop moves into different areas of the cathedral. For me, it spoke loudly of how these two men are loved by the local Church and belong to that Church.

Back in 1976, and continuing through these many years, I have remained friends with the three men shown here. Our lives have taken twists and turns, some happy, some sad, but it was with hearts filled with gratitude that we were all able to share this moment together.

A poignant moment for me came when Bishop Reed, in his remarks after Communion, said simple, "All I can be is Bob Reed." That sentiment and the truth behind it shined throughout that day in Boston.

I was so glad I was able to attend.

After Boston, I traveled to New York City. More on that tomorrow.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Ordination to the Episcopacy Here in Boston

Here I sit. About halfway up the nave of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston. I haven't stepped foot in this place since June of 1983. When I was a seminarian here I played the organ here at the cathedral for many Archdiocesan celebrations.
I am here to celebrate the ordination of my friend Bob Reed to the episcopacy. He will be an auxiliary bishop here in Boston.
Many fond memories here.
I will post photos and more in the next few days.
Please pray for Bishop Reed.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Let the Benedictine Sisters in Namibia Sing! Many Thanks!

Tuesday greetings from the home office of World Library Publications and the J.S. Paluch Company.

In June, I posted this:

"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."

Here's a great photo of Sister Tammy Prado, OSB, the prioress of the community, with some of the children from the area.

So, in the ensuing days, Fr. Ed and I decided to launch a "GoFundMe" campaign and posted it on Facebook. The response was overwhelming and we raised more than enough to cover the costs of the shipment in less than a day. Because of this, we at WLP and J.S. Paluch were able to include other resources for the sisters, including art books and books for spiritual reading. We also included a few books that the sisters could use as gifts for those who assist them.

I had my fingers crossed for weeks as the shipment made its way across the world to Namibia, Africa. A few days ago I received an email from Sister Tammy letting me know that the shipment had arrived and was in great shape. Whew!

Then, just last week, Sister Tammy sent me some photographs, which I would like to share with you. This did our hearts good here at WLP and J.S. Paluch. The sisters are holding the hymnals and books, as well as signs thanking Fr. Ed, World Library Publications, and me.

I know that some of you donated to the fund; you can see what your donation meant to these sisters in Namibia. Know how grateful Fr. Ed Foley and I are for your generosity.

I am so privileged and proud to be working for a company like J.S. Paluch and World Library Publications, and to have a dedicated mentor and friend like Fr. Ed Foley.

Let the sisters of Namibia sing and pray!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Initiation in Kokomo and Singing in Milwaukee

Wednesday greetings from the sultry Midwest. Lots to catch you all up on today.

I spent last evening at Our Lady of Good Hope parish in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, leading WLP's Sing the Seasons Choral Reading Session. There was a fine group of musicians in attendance and it really was "a grand night for singing."

The church space is quite massive, completely in the round. When built, the number of parishioners was much larger than it is today. So they have recently reduced the seating capacity from 1200 to 500, which creates enormous open spaces in the entire church. A few photos.

I would imagine when the place was filled with twice as many pews, there wasn't much room for a large font. With the renovation, this poor font looks a little lost, don't you think?

The new carpeting is quite nice, with an interesting pattern. It is glued solidly to the floor, which helps greatly with the fine acoustics in the building,

Our first piece in the repertoire is Ed Bolduc's There's a Wideness in God's Mercy. Have you heard it?

I stayed in Milwaukee overnight; I had a meeting there at the cathedral this morning. I was able to walk through the Holy Door of Mercy at Saint John the Evangelist Cathedral. Here was my view this morning.

Busy week for me. On Saturday I presented a day-long RCIA workshop for the Diocese of Lafayette; it was held at Saint Joan of Arc parish in Kokomo. I must say that this is probably the most unusual church space I have ever seen. The diocese purchased a defunct insurance company's national headquarters and turned it into a parish church and center. Here's the sign as you drive into the property.

And here is the exterior of the church.

And the gathering area.

Here is the interior worship space, converted from a large meeting room apparently.

Near the organ . . .

It was an interesting place, to say the least. But here is the reason why I was there:

What a wonderful and engaging group of Catholics committed to initiation ministry. I had a blast in Kokomo!

I am here in the office for a few days, then it's off at the end of the week to present a day-long workshop in the Diocese of Portland, Maine, focused on the apprenticeship model of Christian initiation.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Sing the Seasons and an Oasis of Mercy and Hospitality

Thursday greetings from the hot and humid Midwest.

These are busy days here at WLP. Our "Sing the Seasons" Choral Reading Sessions are off to a great start. Alan Hommerding led the first session last week in the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, and this past Tuesday evening we held our "Chicago West" session at Saint Mary of Gostyn Parish in Downer's Grove, IL. Some photos from the "grand night for singing!"


You can check out our web site dedicated to these sessions around the country. 

Tomorrow I am off to the Diocese of Lafayette in Indiana where, on Saturday I will be presenting a day-long session entitled "The Initiating Community: An Oasis of Mercy and Hospitality." This is a great diocese where I have done many presentations; wonderful good-hearted Catholics willing to take up the challenges of the new evangelization.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, August 1, 2016

The Journey through Advent and Lent

Here in the Catholic publishing world, we at WLP are constantly seeking ways to fulfill our mission to "serve and inspire the singing, praying, initiating church." One of the ways we do that is by publishing take home booklets for parishioners to help them on their journey through the seasons of Advent and Lent. Several weeks ago I shared our Advent booklets for 2016, available in both English and Spanish.

Believe it or not, last week our booklets for Lent 2017 arrived, and they are just beautiful. They are also available in English and Spanish. Here's a photo I just snapped of these Lenten booklets.

Click on the links I provided for each of the versions and check out the quantity pricing for your parish. On the web site page, you can view sample pages. Or just click here to take a look. These are beautifully designed and well-written booklets that will help your parishioners in their spiritual growth as these seasons unfold.

Thanks for listening to my little Monday morning "commercial." I am so proud of the work of our WLP team members for bringing these resources to the Church.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.