Memories of our 175th Anniversary

With memories of our 175th Anniversary celebration so fresh, I want to take an opportunity to respond to the reactions and feedback the staff has been receiving. I know others around the office probably have much more they could share, but since so much of the response has pertained to the music, I’d like to share some of my thoughts on our music ministry.

First I want to say on behalf of the music ministry, a sincere “You’re welcome!” I know others involved in that very special day would share this sentiment. I personally have been privy to so many positive comments of thanks, and I know this extends to the rest of the music ministry, indeed everyone involved.

It is a joy to put forth the special, extraordinary effort for such a great celebration like the one we observed July 12. In particular, it is a real pleasure to labor for this community when there is so much positive energy at work in general. The responses we get, in terms of applause and written notes of gratitude are certainly nice and encouraging but are not the aim of our efforts. To see and hear those in the pews moved and inspired to prayer by what we’re doing as musicians is truly rewarding and motivating.

On that very point, there were many comments of how inspired and moved you were. These notes in particular tell me that something went right, to put it simply. If our music put you in touch with God or somehow disposed you to hear Him or become aware of His presence and nearness, then we succeeded.

From that perspective, I’d have to say the whole celebration of the anniversary was successful. It really was a positive, uplifting, inspiring, unitive, landmark celebration.

Most of the “thank yous” to specific parishioners have been expressed already, so I’ll leave out individual names and say instead that the celebration was a triumph for the parish, the parishioners, and the glory of God in the local community.

The last comment I’ll address here is another popular one, and one I think can benefit from a response: Why can’t we do that every week???

There are some philosophical reasons for restraint, but most reasons are practical. As for the practical realities, all I can say is that there are only so many of us to go around. I’d like to clear up one misconception: that our choir and music ministry brings in extra folks for those big celebrations. Apart from the horns, all musicians and vocalists were “St. Peter’s own.” The choir that sang for the 10 a.m. Mass on July 12 was very much composed of our “regulars.” However, some sing at one Mass, some at another, and some at a third each week. The big celebrations are fun because we get to sing and play all together, and though they take more work, the time we spend together is really positive and enjoyable.

Likewise those who played instruments, for the most part, worship with us every week. Some choose to play only for those bigger celebrations and holy days. Some play each week they’re here, and I’m grateful they do. However, I have a hard time asking those individuals who have families with whom to celebrate the Lord’s Day each week to give up the entirety of their Sunday morning to play for two different Masses. I do ask every now and then, and they are gracious and accommodating on those occasions.

Our music ministry is now entirely volunteer-supported, and the talent on display when we all get together is the meshing of the gifts of parishioners who generously offer their time, mostly about 3 hours a week (only about 90 minutes during the summer), to help lead and enrich the sung prayer response of our parish family at worship.

As the Director of Music, I appreciate your recognition of those efforts and thank you for noticing. It’s all the more rewarding that it’s really fun to get together and make a great sound for our parish prayer. Even though I sometimes challenge them with new songs, or merely with my own foibles and oversights, they are here with a wonderful attitude and willing to do their best for you, their brothers and sisters.

Therefore, I pass along what you have all said to me, to the choir and musicians: Thank you for all you do to make our Liturgy a meaningful, beautiful opportunity to encounter Jesus every time you share your gifts with the parish.

Next time I’ll talk a bit about some of the philosophical points that govern our music ministry.

David Dunst

Directory of Music and Liturgy

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