Friday, December 30, 2016

Immense Gratitude for . . .

Friday morning greetings.

Did you happen to catch Pope Francis' remarks about the so-called "reform of the reform?"

This, my final day of work here at WLP for 2016, is a day of immense gratitude . . .

. . . for the WLP team members who work tirelessly to fulfill our mission to serve and inspire the singing, praying, initiating church

. . . for the managers here, five extraordinary women whose gifts and talents take my breath away every day

. . . for a work environment that is clean and environmentally friendly

. . . for windows in my office

. . . for the gift of music

. . . for our new team members who joined us in 2016

. . . for those who left our team in 2016 to pursue other life dreams

. . . for a caring family who owns our company

. . . for the opportunity to write this blog . . .

Happy New Year to all!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Chicago: "Keep Hope Alive!"

Thursday greetings on a cold, but sunny, day here in Chicago.

The New York Times printed a story today about Chicago's rise in murders and violence.

That article mentions U.S. House Representative Danny Davis, my own congressman; Mr. Davis represents the district in which I live.



Representative Danny K. Davis, a Democrat whose district includes some of Chicago's most dangerous neighborhoods, said that he believed poverty was fueling the city's bloodshed, and that Chicago needed to make investments 'to revamp whole communities.'

The article goes on. Notice what Mr. Davis says about hope.

"People struggle, and on top of that, in many instances, people have lost hope in their government," Mr. Davis said. "They've lost hope that something is going to change for them. And if we can't keep hope alive, then you don't have to wonder whether things are going to get better or get worse: They'll get worse."

And I didn't realize the following about Mr. Davis and his family.

Last month, Mr. Davis's 15-year-old grandson, Javon Wilson, was shot dead at a home in his grandfather's congressional district. The Chicago police said a fight that preceded the shooting may have been over a pair of shoes, and two teenagers have been charged in Javon's death."

Perhaps the Chicago initiative to end the murder and the violence should be called "Keep Hope Alive."

Feeling frustrated about all of this. Please keep my city in your prayers.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Faith and Action

Wednesday greetings from the quiet "home office" of WLP and J.S. Paluch here in Franklin Park, IL.

Well, I decided I needed to do something concrete yesterday after writing my post here. So, I wrote a letter to Chicago's Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Wanted to share it with you. I hope to receive an answer from His Honor and, if I do, I'll share that here as well. I am learning, even at 58, that in order to be a person of faith, I also need to be a person of action. Here you go:


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

December 27, 2016
Jerry Galipeau
1038 W Monroe Street
Unit 13D
Chicago, IL 60607
Mayor Rahm Emanuel
121 N LaSalle Street
Chicago City Hall 4th Floor
Chicago, IL 60602

Dear Mayor Emanuel,

I wanted to share a blog post I wrote this morning. I am a Roman Catholic blogger and I write a daily entry on the intersection of faith and life. The blog is GottaSingGottaPray.blogspot.com.

Here is this morning’s entry:

Tuesday greetings to all. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas.

I went to the 8:00 A.M. Mass at my parish, Old Saint Patrick's. There was a small choir, a string quartet and woodwinds. It was lovely. A few very strong male voices around me in the pews added to the wonder of the music.

Fr. Ed Foley preached a moving homily centered on the reality that we cannot celebrate Christmas without knowing the whole story; that, in a sense, we celebrate incarnation in the shadow of the cross.

A few weeks ago, I attended a Christmas party and struck up a conversation with a man I had never met. We got on the topic of politics and eventually started talking about what has been going on here in the city of Chicago this year, specifically the spiraling murder rate. We talked about the fact that when there is a terrorist attack, like the one that occurred in Berlin, where 12 people lost their lives and 48 people were injured, it becomes an international news story that garners the attention of the world. New methods of securing the safety of people are pondered and implemented. But we wondered why the killing here in Chicago has not resulted in any kind of concerted effort by the mayor, city leaders, religious leaders, corporate leaders, the great thinkers in our many colleges and universities to address this spiral of violence and death.

Here is a link to the article in today's on-line version of Time magazine. In short, the article reports that over the Christmas weekend, 53 people were shot in the city of Chicago and of those 53, 11 were killed. Where is the international outrage? Why isn't this the lead story in every on-line news agency, print news publications, international television news stations? I would surmise that one of the reasons is a racial one; most of these killings are occurring in poor neighborhoods on Chicago's south and west sides, where the urban poor, mostly black, reside.

When I was listening to Ed Foley preach on Christmas morning, about the incarnation and the shadow of the cross, I couldn't help but think that I live in a city where the cross casts an enormous shadow, certainly across the lives of my brother and sister Chicagoans who suffer violence and death in their families every single day. But that shadow is cast across City Hall as well and across the hearts of those who just don't care enough to do anything.

As you can tell, I am frustrated. After having spent five weeks on a federal jury, where I listened to former gang members talk about shooting people, I wonder what I need to do to help turn our city around. I'm trying to figure that out. The shadow of the cross impels me to do so.

Sorry for the "downer" post today. I live in hope, but a hope diminished these days here in Chicago.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

I wanted to share this with you to let you know how frustrated I am with the spiraling level of violence and killing in the city I love. And I want to ask you a question: What can an ordinary Chicago citizen do in the face of this violence? Have you thought of forming a task force, perhaps headed by you and Cardinal Cupich? It just seems that these senseless killings just go on and on with no end in sight. I would volunteer to help in whatever way I can.

I know this must be amazingly frustrating for you as our mayor. I would like to join you and others in a proactive way to find solutions that will address the root causes and help bring an end to the violence.

Yours truly,


Jerry Galipeau
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Please, followers of this blog, pray for the City of Chicago in a special way.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Fifty-three People Shot; Eleven Fatally

Tuesday greetings to all. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas.

I went to the 8:00 A.M. Mass at my parish, Old Saint Patrick's. There was a small choir, a string quartet and woodwinds. It was lovely. A few very strong male voices around me in the pews added to the wonder of the music.

Fr. Ed Foley preached a moving homily centered on the reality that we cannot celebrate Christmas without knowing the whole story; that, in a sense, we celebrate incarnation in the shadow of the cross.

A few weeks ago, I attended a Christmas party and struck up a conversation with a man I had never met. We got on the topic of politics and eventually started talking about what has been going on here in the city of Chicago this year, specifically the spiraling murder rate. We talked about the fact that when there is a terrorist attack, like the one that occurred in Berlin, where 12 people lost their lives and 48 people were injured, it becomes an international news story that garners the attention of the world. New methods of securing the safety of people are pondered and implemented. But we wondered why the killing here in Chicago has not resulted in any kind of concerted effort by the mayor, city leaders, religious leaders, corporate leaders, the great thinkers in our many colleges and universities to address this spiral of violence and death.



Here is a link to the article in today's on-line version of Time magazine. In short, the article reports that over the Christmas weekend, 53 people were shot in the city of Chicago and of those 53, 11 were killed. Where is the international outrage? Why isn't this the lead story in every on-line news agency, print news publications, international television news stations? I would surmise that one of the reasons is a racial one; most of these killings are occurring in poor neighborhoods on Chicago's south and west sides, where the urban poor, mostly black, reside.

When I was listening to Ed Foley preach on Christmas morning, about the incarnation and the shadow of the cross, I couldn't help but think that I live in a city where the cross casts an enormous shadow, certainly across the lives of my brother and sister Chicagoans who suffer violence and death in their families every single day. But that shadow is cast across City Hall as well and across the hearts of those who just don't care enough to do anything.

As you can tell, I am frustrated. After having spent five weeks on a federal jury, where I listened to former gang members talk about shooting people, I wonder what I need to do to help turn our city around. I'm trying to figure that out. The shadow of the cross impels me to do so.

Sorry for the "downer" post today. I live in hope, but a hope diminished these days here in Chicago.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Christmas Goose

Friday greetings to all.

As has been my custom, my final post before Christmas is the story of the Christmas Goose at Saint Marcelline in Schaumburg, Illinois. I hope you enjoy it (again!).


The Christmas Goose

I served as director of liturgy and music at Saint Marcelline Parish in Schaumburg, Illinois from 1992 to 1999. A few days before Christmas, as I was walking to my car from the church, I heard a strange noise. It sounded like someone was coughing. I looked around and saw nothing but a group of pesky geese on the church grounds. A few hours later, walking back to the church, I heard the sound again. This time there was only one goose and as I drew closer, I could tell that the sound was coming from this goose. The goose was obviously in some kind of struggle. It was trying to flap its wings and it was emitting this kind of coughing sound. I found the maintenance man, Gil, and asked him to come with me to take a look. As we cautiously approached the struggling goose, we looked more carefully and saw that the poor creature had become entangled in fishing line. The line was wrapped around its wings, preventing it from flying. The line was also wrapped tightly around the bird's neck, which was probably the reason why it was emitting this coughing sound. Gil and I decided that we needed to do something for the poor goose. He phoned his daughter-in-law, a veterinarian, who gave us instructions on what we could do to save the poor bird.

We went into the maintenance room and found some wire clippers and a towel. Gil and I very quietly and slowly approached the goose—they are very large that close up!—and we placed the towel over the bird's head and then we began our work. Wearing gloves, we both began to examine the areas where the fishing line was wrapped around the goose's body. We carefully began to snip the line, pulling pieces of the line away from the bird, who remained quite docile the entire time. To be honest, my heart was racing at this point. When we finally clipped the line around the bird's neck, we knew we had removed all of the fishing line. We then removed the towel and walked very quickly away from the bird.

The goose just sat there looking at us. It began to cough again and after a few strange noises, it rediscovered its own honk. It just honked and honked away.

Then it began to test its wings, flapping around a bit on the ground. We stood there transfixed by all of this. Then, without a moment's hesitation, the bird began to flap its large wings and lifted itself in the air. Gil and I watched as the bird soared higher and higher and farther and farther away.


Once the goose was out of sight, Gil and I just looked at each other and I noticed a tear in his eye, blurred by the tears in my own eyes.

Those of you who regularly read this blog know that very few things in my life remain unexamined. I am always looking for some deeper meaning in events that occur. When I thought about this encounter with the goose, a comparison came to me instantly. What Gil and I managed to do with that coughing goose was akin to what God has done for us through the incarnation of Jesus, our Messiah. Caught up in sin, we are freed by the mercy of God, who loves us so much that he sent his only Son to be our redeemer. And what does this freedom from sin offer us? The potential to fly free, to soar as God's redeemed people, to be lifted up for a life of service to God's people.

May you and those you love have a very Merry Christmas.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Incarnation: Scratching Our Itches and Blowing Our Noses

Thanks to all for your kind messages and words of comfort and hope following yesterday's post, both here and on Gotta Sing Gotta Pray's Facebook page.

I know that yesterday I said that, because of my experience with my sister in her final days, the hymn O Come, All Ye Faithful always reaches deeply into my heart. This reminded me that unless we do our best to bring our life experiences into the Church's worship, with all of its symbols, that worship can become flat and lifeless.

It makes so much sense to me to have this sentiment at this time of year. There are two operative pieces of theology that have always been rooted at the core of my own belief and my own approach to our life on this earth. The first is summed up in those words in Genesis, "In the divine image, God created them . . . and God looked at everything that had been made and found it very good." This sense of "original grace" has helped me see hope for a world broken too often by sin and division; hope that restorative justice is something that can be real and tangible in our own lives, in our relationships with loved ones, near and far, and in the very way we see the world around us.

The second is contained in what we celebrate as central during these days: the incarnation. God became one of us. Just think about it. Sometimes, like moments when I have an itch that needs to be scratched, or when I have congested sinuses, I think that Jesus had itches that needed to be scratched and sinuses that were congested. I know that these may seem trivial, but they help me put into context the enormity and mystery of the incarnation of the Lord: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us."



Lately, my feeble brain has been trying to put all of this in the context of cosmology in general. We are but a tiny speck in the enormity of the universe. Someone asked me recently what we would do if we encountered alien life: "Would you baptize them?" I immediately responded, "Perhaps it might be they who want to baptized us." The enormity and possibility is mind boggling. A friend of one of my younger brothers once asked me if I thought that there were other worlds like ours out there and other creatures that God made. He opined, "The way I look at it, it would be like saying that Rembrandt stopped painting, stopped creating, after his first masterpiece. I don't think God stopped with us, his first masterpiece."

As these days unfold and we celebrate the hodie in a few days, let's remember to bring our life experiences into the carols we sing and into the symbols and actions that unfold before us.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Come, Lord Jesus

Wednesday greetings from the Midwest, where it has warmed up considerably. It is in the low 30's.

"Come, Lord Jesus."

Each Advent, my thoughts turn to the late 1990's and early 2000's. My late sister Joanne, who died in 2001 from complications brought on by multiple sclerosis, was in her declining years and her quality of life had become quite diminished.

For those living with terminal illness and for family members who accompany them along this painful road, Advent can be a difficult time, perhaps even more difficult than Christmas. I remember going to Mass each week and singing my "Maranatha's," and my "O Come, O Come Emmanuel's," and listening to the choir singing Paul Manz's "E'en So, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come." Watching a loved one struggling with the pain of illness as death approaches makes these Advent lyrics all the more poignant. I remember well the last Advent of Joanne's final year with us. I was singing these texts with a mixture of anger and frustration. I wanted the Lord to come for her. I wanted her pain to cease. I wanted the pain of my family members watching her decline to simply stop.

I remember saying to the Lord, "Enough! Just come now, Emmanuel, Lord, Prince of Peace, some now and bring us all peace."

Of course, I knew somewhere deep inside that the Lord would come for Joanne. I was just frustrated that it wasn't according to my schedule.

I had very little time alone with my sister in her final days. We were all keeping vigil and, with a large family, there were always many of us in her room. But one day, while she was still conscious, I had just a little time with her as we waited for a priest to come and bring her communion. I crawled into the bed next to her and asked if she wanted to sing with me. She really had no voice by then, but her eyes widened and she nodded in agreement. So "we" sang Do You Hear What I Hear?. And then we sang O Come, All Ye Faithful. It was just about then that the priest appeared with our mom and dad to bring Joanne communion.

I told them that Joanne and I had been practicing the music for our little communion service. They looked at us as if we were off our rockers.

So, I laid down next to my sister and as the little service began we started to sing the refrain "O come, let us adore him, O come, let us adore him, O come, let us adore him, Christ the Lord." My voice was soft and Joanne moved her lips "singing" each word. Joanne was unable to eat or drink in those last days, so we all shared in her final communion by consuming the Lord by her side.

I still cannot get through that Christmas carol at Mass to this day.

Please know, especially if you are living with a terminal disease or are accompanying a loved one on the final journey, that there are many, like my family and me, who have walked this road. Let us all pray in these final days of Advent that the Lord will come, in whatever way and at whatever time, to bring grace and peace. "O come, let us adore him."

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Fourth Sunday of Advent: Saint Margaret Mary in Winter Park, Florida

Tuesday greetings.

I was in Orlando over the weekend for a family wedding, which was wonderful.

On Sunday morning, some family members and I went to Saint Margaret Mary Parish in Winter Park for the 9:30 A.M. Mass. Since the last time I was there, they have added a narthex with a large baptism font.


It is difficult to describe the interior style of the large church. The narthex felt warm, whereas the interior of the church itself has always left me with a bit of a cold impression.


The exterior of the church is undergoing some work, so the skylight above the cross in the sanctuary is covered with some kind of bluish-green tarp on the roof. This creates quite an odd cascade of color coming down from the skylight, don't you think? This is yet another central Florida church that has video screens installed in the church. Some parishes I have been to in the area really go overboard with the screens, showing live video of what is actually occurring right in front of one's eyes. Here at Saint Margaret Mary, though, the screens were used to show music and some responses. As a visitor, I felt like my needs were well taken care of, since they made sure that all music, whether projected on the screen or from the hymnal, was made clear to me. Congregational singing was quite good. What I appreciated most was the fact that it was not a cantor- nor choir-centric music program. It was the organ that was the foundation for the congregational singing. There simply was no need for anyone to cue us; great job music ministers at Saint Margaret Mary.

The fourth candle for the Advent wreath was carried in the opening procession and placed in its spot in the wreath behind the altar.


I am spending Christmas here in Chicago; looking forward to some time of peace and quiet.

It has been quite refreshing here at the office. Yesterday, in late afternoon, I talked with a few of my colleagues, noting how quiet and calm the place is. Then it dawned on me that for the past five weeks, my entire days have been filled with listening attentively to witness testimony at the trial. Scores of witnesses; words, words, words. It just felt good to have some peace here at the office.

Gotta sing, Gotta pray.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Back "Home"

Monday greetings on this frigid day here in the Midwest.

Well, well, well. I am back at my desk here at the office. The last time I was here was Election Day.

As you know, I was impaneled on a jury for a federal trial here in Chicago that lasted just shy of five weeks. I am so glad that this experience is behind me. My peers elected me foreman of the jury and I was proud to serve my country in this manner. If you are interested, here is a news story about the trial.

Twelve jurors were chosen from among a pool of about 80. I can't really describe what it was like to essentially have my regular life halted for five weeks. I missed the staff here at WLP so much the entire time. I missed the opportunities to celebrate Advent and prepare for Christmas in the usual ways. And I missed too many hours of sleep, haunted by the characters, some of them serial killers, who took the witness stand during the trial. Before this trial, I knew nothing about gangs; I knew nothing about the way the Chicago Police Department kept their files; I had no clue about the ways that poor people can get sucked into drugs and violence; I knew nothing about what it must be like to sit on death row, waiting to be executed.

I gained a tremendous amount of respect and appreciation for those eleven others whose lives were upended during the trial, especially the mothers of young children.

The last five weeks opened my eyes in many ways and for that I am grateful.

Lots of things to do here at the office. Just wanted to let you know that I am "back in the saddle."

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

From "Juror Jerry"

Second Sunday of Advent greetings from the West Loop of Chicago, where it has been steadily snowing for several hours. It's the first snow of the season and it is just beautiful.

The federal trial on which I am a juror will enter its fourth week tomorrow. It has been an intense and fascinating process thus far, but I miss my regular life!

At Mass at Old Saint Patrick's this morning, one of the intercessions was for "judges and juries." Really felt like I needed that this morning.

I hope your Advent is unfolding with peace and beauty.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.