Welcome Kate Ryan!
We welcome to our parishes this weekend Kate Ryan, our new Music Director. Kate will be introducing herself at all the Masses so that folks can put a name with a face.
Please take a few seconds after Mass today to meet and greet Kate. May she know our hospitality and welcome as she begins not just a new job in a new city; but an important ministry in serving God’s people.
Kate comes to us with lots of energy, enthusiasm and a vast background in music education, management and theater. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from St. Mary’s College (Notre Dame, Indiana) and a Masters of Music degree in Vocal Performance from the Boston Conservatory. She has experience working in Catholic parishes and planning Catholic liturgies. Kate has recently served as the Performance Coordinator for the Community Music Program in the School of Music at DePaul University here in Chicago.
This is a good time for us to reflect and realize the importance that music and song plays within our Catholic liturgy. It has the power to prayerfully touch and transform our hearts and deepen our faith. Sacred lyrics can put us in touch with the awesome gift of God’s love for us. It can bring us to tears at weddings and funerals. It can comfort and lift our heavy hearts when we are faced with doubt and uncertainty. My on-going hope and personal desire is that Immaculate Conception and St. Joseph parishes are places where good “Church music” is experienced and folks are inspired and nourished in their faith.
A few weeks ago, the familiar words of Amazing Grace were part of a moving and memorable eulogy that President Obama gave for Rev. Clementa Pickney in Charelston, South Carolina. He was slain along with eight others during a bible study at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. I heard that even the crowds in the local Charleston restaurants and bars, who were reverently watching the funeral service, automatically joined the chorus of Amazing Grace when President Obama started the hymn during the service. Yes, music has the power to move us.
When I was in the seminary, one of the professors who taught liturgy said, “Mass is not meant to be a spectator sport.” He was trying to impress upon his students the spirit of the liturgical documents of Vatican II that called for everyone’s “full and active participation.” When it comes to praying at our Sunday Eucharist, we are all to be engaged. Everyone has a role, not just the folks on the altar. We all play a part. Each person has something to contribute. We should never hold back when it comes to praising the Lord.
As Kate Ryan begins her new ministry, let us think about how we can make our prayer the best experience of Sunday worship. Here are a few questions to ponder.
- When I am at Mass, do I try to sing the hymns, or do I leave it to others?
- Do I respond to the prayers wholeheartedly with confidence and conviction?
- When I sing, do I give it my all; or just hum the words quietly to myself?
- Do I expect to be entertained when I come to Mass?
- Do I open the hymnal and follow along with the music?
- Has God blessed me with a good voice that could easily be part of the parish choir?
Imagine what our Masses would look like if we were totally invested in our prayer, worship and song, yes 100%. Our liturgies would certainly be vibrant and spirit-filled. May this be our hallmark, our pride and our joy.
There are three remaining sessions to our Summer Scripture Program that features Fr. Donald Senior from the Catholic Theological Union here in Chicago. I have attended the video presentations and have found them very insightful and enjoyable. It has also been a pleasure to listen to the reflections of fellow parishioners who have come together from both parishes.
The presentations are on Saturday morning at 9:30AM at Immaculate Conception parish. The group meets on the third floor where the parish offices are located. Check it out. You will be glad that you did.
Parish Visibility Project
Thank you to all who have helped us reach our goal for the Parish Visibility Project! Your generosity will help our parishes become more known within our neighborhoods. The signs will be installed this month. I am sure they will make a huge difference, especially for those who are visiting and those new to our parish.
Happy Independence Day!
On this holiday weekend, we pray that God may continue to bless our country with the gifts of freedom and peace. We remember in our prayer the thousands of women and men around the world currently serving our country in the armed forces. May they soon return home safely to their families and friends.
God bless America, the land that we love!
– Fr. Larry