Wednesday, February 22, 2017

From 37,000 Feet

Here I am at 37,000 feet, flying over the Sierras on my way to Anaheim via San Francisco.

The Los Angeles Religious Education Congress begins tomorrow.  I am giving two presentations, one on Baptism and the other on the confluence of the principles in Sherry Waddell's "Forming Intentional Disciples" and those we find in the RCIA. This is going to be quite challenging for me and those in attendance. But I am excited about diving right in!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

People Gotta Sing; People Gotta Pray

Tuesday greetings to all.

I am gearing up to leave for Baltimore tomorrow morning. Mary Birmingham and I are doing an RCIA Intensive at the Mid-Atlantic Congress there on Friday and Saturday. This is a bit of a different kind of model, kind of a "conference within a conference." There are close to 50 people registered for the intensive and Mary and I have been working for months on our five one-hour sessions. Should be fun!

I received a few photos from the folks in Tyler, Texas, where I led a workshop on Saturday. Here are some folks singing WLP's fine hymn God, Who At the Font Once Named Us.

We sang this piece after everyone had a chance to come to the water to renew their baptism.

And here's yours truly in action!

Looks like I am trying to figure out what to say next!

January and February have been focused on so much ministry training and retreat work for me. Following the Congress in Baltimore and a few days back here in Chicago, we'll be heading to Anaheim, California for the annual Los Angeles Religious Education Congress.

You know, people really do gotta sing and people really do gotta pray. I've met hundreds of them in my travels just these past several weeks!

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Who We Are and Whose We Are in Tyler, Texas

Monday greetings. It's sunny and beautiful here in the Midwest.

I had a wonderful time in the Diocese of Tyler, Texas over the weekend. I believe Tyler is the smallest (number of people) diocese in the lower 48 states. On Saturday over 90 people from across the diocese came to the chancery office to spend the day focused on cultivating a baptismal spirituality in our hearts and in our parishes. A few photos.

Across town, the same presentation was being given in Spanish. I was told that over 60 people were in attendance at that location. They really know how to get the folks out in this diocese!

As you know, baptismal spirituality is one of my favorite topics, around which I have lots of passion. A day like Saturday is, for the folks gathered--and for me--a day "to remember who we are and whose we are."

One woman at the session told us that she always thought that her baptism was something that happened to her way in the past, when she was a baby. She said that the day helped awaken in her the importance and enduring power of the sacrament. I just smiled when she said this.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Our Common Home by Brother Mickey McGrath

Another exciting day has dawned in the world of Catholic publishing.

About an hour ago I received an email from our shipping department, alerting me to the fact that Brother Mickey McGrath's latest book just arrived in our warehouse. Within a few minutes, the book's editor, Christine Krzystofczyk, was in my office with the very first copy of Our Common Home: Visual meditations of Pope Francis' Encyclical Laudato Si'. 

I couldn't resist snapping a photo of the book's proud editor.

Brother Mickey was inspired to create these images while reading Pope Francis' encyclical. Just as in his similar book with WLP, Dear Young People, in this new book Mickey takes Pope Francis' words, this time from phrases in Laudato Si' and beautifully creates art for the quote or turns the quote itself into a piece of art.

This conjunction of art and text helps illustrate the pope's inspiring and challenging words. Here are a few examples. They don't do the book justice, but you get the idea.

I am so grateful that we are in collaboration with Brother Mickey, whose work always touches my heart.

Please, please, order your copy of this book and be inspired by Pope Francis in a new way.

Thanks for listening.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

WLP and One License

Wednesday greetings from our offices here in Franklin Park, Illinois.

For the past several months, we at World Library Publications have been faced with a choice. This has to do with the licensing of our music.

Many of you know how this works, but for those who don't, here goes.

When a parish, diocese, or institution wants to reprint or project a piece of music onto screens for use by the congregation, they have to obtain permission and secure a license to do so. Many of these entities purchase what we call a publisher's "annual license." These licenses cover the use of that publisher's music for a period of one year. During that year, the parish, diocese, or institution is required to report the use of that music in whatever form it has been distributed. The publisher receives those usage reports and maintains a database throughout the year to track that usage.

At the end of the year, the money received from the entities through the purchases of their annual licenses is distributed to the composers whose compositions were used and that usage reported during the year. The publisher retains a portion of that licensing "pool" to cover administrative and other expenses.

Licensing can occur in other ways as well: one-time usage, usage for a liturgical season, etc.

Several months ago, we at WLP learned that OCP and GIA (the two other large publishers of Roman Catholic liturgical music) had formed a new licensing company: One License. GIA had their own licensing arm, "One License," and OCP had its own, "LicenSing," each with its own set of member publishers. That new company would be the place that those who want to license music published by OCP and GIA and these other member publishers would go, kind of a "one-stop shop" for people who want to use music from those publishers.

Up until this point, parishes, dioceses, and institutions that wanted annual licenses to use music from WLP, GIA, and OCP had to purchase three annual licenses, one from each publisher. The reporting and tracking systems were separate as well. We at WLP have resisted joining either one of the original separate licensing arms of OCP and GIA simply because we wanted to make sure our composers were receiving the maximum portion of the licensing dollars through our own WLP annual license, without diminishing their portion through payment of an administrative fee to the licensing administrator.

With the "merger" of OCP and GIA's licensing arms, the picture changed considerably.

We had to take a good, long, hard look at this new picture. The driving force behind our decision was our clear mission statement here at WLP:

WLP serves and inspires the singing, praying, initiating Church.

We ultimately came to the decision to become a member publisher with One License precisely because doing so would help us move our mission forward; this was a decision made to better serve our customers, to better serve the singing and praying Church.

So now, those who hold a One License annual license will be able to have one place to find the music they need, download assembly versions of pieces, report usage, and listen to sound clips. Licenses are also offered for rehearsal tracks and pod casting and live streaming.

My largest concern throughout all of this has been for our WLP composers, many of whom I personally consulted as we pondered our decision. It is my hope, and I am truly optimistic about this, that because many, many more people will be exposed to the finest liturgical music published today by us at World Library Publications, the music of WLP's composers will be licensed, used, and reported much more often and by a much larger pool of Catholic and mainline Protestant parishes. This is a good thing.

So, beginning on March 1, 2017, WLP will be a member publisher of One License. Letters announcing our decision have been mailed to our composers and to our WLP annual license holders. The arrangement with One License is non-exclusive, which means that parishes can continue to hold a WLP annual license if they so choose and they can still come to us for all of the rest of their licensing needs.

A caution. Far too many parishes and parish musicians who purchase annual licenses simply do not report usage. Far too many times I have heard music directors say, "Oh, I have an annual license, which permits me to use any music from that publisher; reporting is a hassle; we've already paid our money, so what's the difference?" Folks, the difference is that if we don't know whose compositions you used, how are we to distribute those licensing dollars to that composer so that he or she can pay the mortgage or put shoes on the feet of their children? This is as basic as it gets. Please, please do not deprive those who create music that lifts hearts and souls to the Lord of the compensation to which they are entitled. It is not only a legal issue (annual licenses are legal contracts which require reporting), it is a justice issue.

Thanks for listening today.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Presence and Absence in Atlanta

Monday greetings. I know it has been awhile since I last posted; time seems to be flying by these days, especially with my own travel schedule.

I spent all day Saturday in the Archdiocese of Atlanta, leading an RCIA day focused on conversion and discernment.

This has become one of my favorite topics. I begin with an exploration of the meaning of baptism. We talk about the Christian journey "from the font to the banquet of heaven" and what this journey means in the area of our own conversion. I then focus our attention on the Church's understanding of conversion, by looking at Paul VI's Evangelii Nuntiandi, as well as the Catechism of the Catholic Church. These documents provide jumping off points to examine our own conversion; our own personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

One of the questions I use to help the participants examine their own journey of conversion is this one: "When did Jesus Christ turn from an idea, or a person to study, or a figure in history into much, much more for you?" I love watching the faces on most Catholics when I ask this question. At first, they have quizzical expressions. Then, when they reflect further and start sharing with one another, you can see how they begin to realize how important the articulation of their relationship with the Lord actually is.

Catechumens and candidates in the RCIA process need to meet Christ in the real lives of RCIA ministers. I am becoming more and more convinced that that cannot meet Christ on a handout.

Here are the good folks in the Archdiocese of Atlanta, conversing with one another.

I try to tell my own story of the discovery of Jesus Christ in my own life, describing that personal relationship. But you know, I have reached a point in my life when I am not afraid also to talk about those times, sometimes long stretches of time, when the Lord has seemed absent in my life.

I think people need leaders like me, who are people unafraid to talk about faith, to also talk about the struggles to find God, and to name times when God seems absent.

It was a good day in Atlanta.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.