Saturday, December 04, 2004

"Delighted" doesn't begin to express it
One of the early observations I made as the new pastor of my parish was that the local university's Music Department Chairman, a doctor of music, is a parishioner. In addition, his wife is also quite talented vocally and is working on a degree in music. That my parish does not have a choir, but relies on a small handful of volunteers to do the music, was cause for me to contact this man and his wife to initiate some "talks". Well, so many other details have been in my face since that early observation six months ago, that only today did I manage to meet with these two parishioners.

We went out to lunch and discussed their lives and their backgrounds and the state of things at the university. Then we began discussing music at the parish. I know they are incredibly busy, even having to travel for various music festivals and appearances directing orchestras or ensembles, and so I didn't know what sort of help they could realistically offer the parish in the formation of a choir. So, I told them I think our parish music needs some work. As it is, the few volunteers feel very stressed and imposed upon because they don't feel accomplished enough and they also can't find much help. They agreed that the parish music could use some attention and assistance and even admitted that was one of their own observations when they first came to the parish three years ago. Much to my pleasure, they agreed to coordinate the formation of a parish choir, saying that, though already busy, it was something they needed to do to be more involved in the life of their parish. Imagine my delight when the professor mentioned the importance of working on things like plain chant and simple Latin settings of the Mass (Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei). The professor even writes some of his own settings for traditional Latin texts. I told him perhaps the parish would be a place to display those works at Mass.

Then, ala Emeril, I kicked it up ANOTHER NOTCH! I told them another idea I had was to have the parish host things like sacred music concerts and other events. The Church has always had a close association with the arts, sometimes a rather tumultuous relationship, and I told him I wanted the parish to support cultural offerings in our rural area. I wasn't sure of the reaction I would get from these two parishioners. "Delight" doesn't even begin to describe my reaction to their response. They thought the idea was wonderful! They agreed that we should look to future times when the parish can host musical events put on by the university students. It may even be a way to increase recruitment at the university. I am excited to see how this develops!

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