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.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Asking for Your Take on the State of the RCIA

So grateful to all of you who entered the various discussions about cantors and music during communion this week. Two words: practice varies.

I was saddened by some of the comments from musicians who lamented the fact that sometimes they are simply forgotten at communion time, with no one coming to them to give them the Body and Blood of Christ. This is a practice that needs to change.

Yesterday, I spent the day with initiation ministers from around the country (and one from Canada), discussing plans for an LTP-sponsored gathering of initiation ministers that they plan to hold next year here in the Chicago area. It was wonderful interacting with initiation pioneers and newbies alike. Some of these folks are people I have worked with in Christian initiation leadership since the late 1980's. I strongly felt the presence of Christiane Brusselmans and Jim Dunning, the two prophets who set the course for the implementation of the Rite in North America.

Here's a photo taken of the group at the end of our deliberations yesterday.

Kudos to LTP for bringing this group together and to the ACTA Foundation for its support.

One of the issues discussed was a general feeling of a recent spark in interest in the implementation of the RCIA; that in too many places the RCIA has lost its originating vision and people are looking for a re-grounding in the Church's actual vision of the Rite. In too many places, the Rite has morphed into nothing more than a course in Catholic teaching leading to the celebration of the sacraments, with the initiation sacraments being seen as some kind of "graduation" at the end of the course. And there is a sense that leaders are beginning to think that this is the wrong direction for the RCIA.

My questions to you: In your own parish experience, how close to the center of parish life is the RCIA? Do you celebrate the rites? With vigor? Mechanically? Something to "get through?" Do you sense a re-invigoration of the RCIA in your parish or (arch)diocese?

So interested in hearing from you. You can respond here or over at Gotta Sing Gotta Pray's Facebook page.

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

When Does Music at Communion Begin?

Thanks to all who continue to voice their opinions and preferences about the cantor's gesture. This, from Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship:

"At times, it may be appropriate to use a modest gesture that invites participation and clearly indicates when the congregation is to begin, but gestures should be used sparingly and only when genuinely needed."

It's that last phrase, "only when genuinely needed," that should guide the use of gestures.

OK, folks, putting another question out there for you. I know it has been asked before; just trying to get some feedback once again, especially in places where the practice has been changed or adjusted.

I often notice a complete lack of uniformity when it comes to when the piece of music sung during Communion begins. The General Instruction on the Roman Missal couldn't be any clearer:

"86. While the Priest is receiving the Sacrament, the Communion Chant is begun, its purpose being to express the spiritual union of the communicants by means of the unity of their voices, to show gladness of heart, and to bring out more clearly the 'communitarian' character of the procession to receive the Eucharist. The singing is prolonged for as long as the Sacrament is being administered to the faithful."

At this point in the Mass, we all, priest, deacon, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, other liturgical ministers, musicians, and members of the faithful in the congregation are "one" in the Body of Christ. The music sung during Communion begins when the first person receives Holy Communion, namely the priest.

So often, there is no music when the priest receives Holy Communion. Sometimes the music doesn't begin until right after he has consumed the Body and Blood of Christ. Sometimes the music doesn't begin until the deacon has received Communion. Sometimes the music doesn't begin until the extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion receive. Sometimes the music doesn't begin until the musicians receive Communion.

At at least two parishes where I have worshiped in the past year, the cantor sings a solo that begins after the priest consumes the Body and Blood of Christ, continuing to "cover" the reception of Holy Communion by the extraordinary ministers. Often this solo continues well into the reception of Communion by many in the congregation. Then, while the congregation is in the middle of the Communion procession, the solo ends, there is a silent pause, then the cantor announces the "Communion Hymn."

How do these practices express, as the GIRM says, the "communitarian" character of the Communion procession. These practices mitigate against a sense of communion, don't you think?

So, my question, when do you begin the music that will be sung at Communion in your parish? What is your reasoning?

Gotta sing. Gotta pray.