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Local musicians attend Pastoral Musicians

Conference in Chicago

By Christina Haselhorst
Special to the Register

“SING TO THE LORD!” “Canten al Senor!” “Mwimbieni BWANA!” “Chantez au Seigneur!” “Cantate Domino!”
All of these different languages…making the same proclamation!  
Along with more than 3,000 attendees, representatives from the Prince of Peace Parish in Great Bend and Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Dodge City traveled to Chicago, Illinois to attend the 2009 32nd Annual National Pastoral Musicians (NPM) Conference, July 6-11.
Participants attended many breakout sessions geared towards musical directors, organists, pianists, cantors, religious and other parish musicians, all of whom truly embraced this year’s theme of “Sing to the Lord!”


More than 132 speakers and countless performers were present, providing a plethora of information regarding liturgical music planning, cantor training, social issues and provided information on the upcoming third typical edition of the Roman Missal (a new Mass translation to be coming roughly in November, 2010 that is to more accurately represent the original Latin texts).  
Sister Celeste Albers was especially thankful for that information stating: “I appreciated the sessions that I went to explaining the future of our service music as the ordinary of the Mass changes. The priest who gave us the background and history of the changes was very helpful for me and something that I plan to share with our musicians as well as our whole parish through bulletin articles.”
All participants agreed how inspiring it was to be around over 3,000 talented, spiritual, and friendly musicians. To say those from the Diocese of Dodge City were inspired is an understatement. We came home with an excitement and an overwhelming desire to share what we learned with others; to share just how beautiful and spiritual our participation as musicians in the Mass can be. We were exposed to a giant repertoire of music that we are anxious to share and incorporate in our individual parishes.
Robert Neidhart said that he “was overwhelmed …3,000 pastoral musicians in one place praising and singing … just an extraordinary experience!”
There were a large number of youth from across the nation in attendance at the conference. “Seeing so many young people involved in the music of the convention was also a great inspiration to me, and is very affirming of what we are doing here in Prince of Peace Parish with our youth. Connie Schneweis spends many hours working with our high school students to be cantors for our Masses,” said Sister Celeste.
Dee Burke reflected on the Plenum Address of Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, Texas and advisor to NPM for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). “He was a very dynamic speaker.  He reflected on the ways in which pastoral ministry fosters the ‘common, sung expression of faith within liturgical celebrations that strengthens our faith when it grows weak and draws us into the divinely inspired voice of the Church at prayer.’” Cardinal DiNardo encouraged the clergy to sing the music of the Liturgy, feeling that the assembly will then realize how important the liturgical dialogue really is.
While this conference offered us the opportunities to meet new people, eat some terrific food, witness some amazing concerts, and attend a very musical Mass (“that gave me a severe case of goose bumps!” – Terry Armstrong), this conference was a musical, spiritual journey. Terry stated, “I thoroughly enjoyed meeting all of our composers and the fact that they are musicians just like us.” Dan Hubbell agreed saying, “What a wonderful experience. I feel a renewed sense of excitement about doing pastoral music in our parish. The experience of singing with today’s composers and 3000 other musicians really opened my mind to be more creative and become a better musician. The week was also full of interesting seminars that allowed us to share ideas with other people from across the United States and around the world. I would encourage any parish musician to attend an NPM conference.” If you are interested in attending the 33rd Annual Convention, keep an eye on www.npm.org for more information. It will be held in Detroit, Michigan, July 12-16, 2010 with the theme of Hope and Harmony! And in two years (2011), the convention will be in Louisville, Kentucky. The participants all agreed that another trip is in order!
Paul F. Ford, professor of Theology and Liturgy at St. John Seminary, Camarillo, California, stated during a breakout session that “music takes the words of the liturgy down into your heart. The Liturgy of the Word is the oven for the Eucharistic bread and the Holy Spirit is the cask for the Eucharistic wine. The Word of the Lord forms the Eucharist and Liturgists must proclaim this Word to help transform the Eucharist in our hearts.” In other words, song helps to get the Word to the heart so the heart can sing! Sing to the Lord!
“We are called to something beautiful for others.” – Mother Teresa.
“The singing of the Church comes ultimately out of love. It is the utter depth of love that produces the singing. “Cantare amantis est”, says St. Augustine, singing is a lover’s thing. In so saying, we come again to the trinitarian interpretation of Church music. The Holy Spirit is love, and it is he who produces the singing. He is the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit who draws us into love for Christ and so leads to the Father. [The Spirit of the Liturgy, (SF, CA: Ignatius, 2000), p. 142]” – Pope Benedict XVI

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