Sacred music has the power to focus people on God and draw them into a deeper relationship with Him and one another.
People entrusted with harnessing that power in their parishes should always be looking for ways to grow in their knowledge, abilities and commitment.
“It’s important to interact with other people who are doing similar things and also to hear different perspectives and learn some new things about our faith and ministry,” stated Jaime Cortez, director of liturgy and music at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Mr. Cortez and Lynné Gray, director of the Gospel Mass Choir for the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., (both widely-respected presenters in their fields) will be in Columbia, Mo. on Friday and Saturday, March 25-26, to lead two separate events in Our Lady of Lourdes Church.
Both events are sponsored by the Jefferson City Chapter of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians (NPM), in partnership with the Jefferson City diocese.
The first event will be a workshop for pastors, directors of religious education and catechists, titled “God in the Barren Spaces: Ministering with Music to the Whole Community,” at 6:30 p.m. on March 25.
The registration cost for this event is $15 per person.
On March 26, guitar and vocal coaching for volunteer singers, cantors, choir members and guitarists will be offered from 9 a.m. to noon.
Guitarists will work with Mr. Cortez on techniques. Vocalists will work with Ms. Gray, being guided to healthier singing.
The registration cost for this event is $20 for NPM members, $30 for non-members. Lunch will be included.
“Hospitality and love”
Mr. Cortez has served as a pastoral musician for over 30 years in the Diocese of Phoenix. He is an adept teacher of instruments and of music ensembles, and gives workshops on pastoral music ministry and presents parish missions in English and in Spanish.
As a clinician, he has dedicated his ministry to promoting better Hispanic liturgies and bringing cultures together for worship.
He aims to help people who minister with music find resources for growing in faith and knowledge.
“I want to encourage them, inspire them to research and read up on and know more about their faith and ministry,” he said.
He emphasized the importance of music ministers cultivating fellowship and lifting each other up.
“We as liturgical ministers need to remember that we’re all in this together,” he said. “We need to keep hospitality and love at the forefront, which is what Christ would do. And this means also helping one another, respecting one another, encouraging one another.”
Ms. Gray is an accomplished liturgist, arranger, director, composer, vocal coach and accompanist who shares her love of voice in ministry throughout the United States.
She said it can be difficult to change one’s heart, but it is not difficult to open one’s heart.
“My hopes are that through what we sing and hear during this workshop, eyes will be open, hearts will be open, minds will be open to what our call is in our Church: to love, to serve, to leave no one alone on the journey of faith,” she said.
As a liturgist and worship leader, Ms. Gray has served on the Liturgical Music Committee for the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., and given numerous workshops.
She was blessed in 2008 to direct the Gospel Mass Choir during the Mass for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.
She said ministering through word and music at Mass presents “a wonderful opportunity to lead our community of faith into full, active and conscious participation.”
“Through the Sacrament of our Baptism and our journey to and through the Paschal Mystery, all must be invited, all must be ministered to, all must feel welcome,” she said.
Ms. Gray wasn’t Catholic yet when she accepted her first job in a Catholic church as organist for her current parish, St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Washington.
She had a strong Christian upbringing and brought that with her into undergraduate and graduate studies at The Catholic University of America.
“When I applied for the job as organist, I was hired,” she said. “I marvel at the fact that I did not even understand the richness of our Liturgy at that time.”
God put all of her gifts to good use as she continued learning about how Catholics worship while being drawn to the sacraments. She became Catholic in 1996.
“I marvel at how the Lord can use all that we have and all that we are if we are bold and courageous to say, ‘Here I am, Lord. Use me!’” she said.
Ms. Gray believes it’s important for people who serve in parish ministry to take time “to recharge, to learn, to be healed, to sing together, to be ministered to and to gather all who have said ‘yes’ to the call of ministry — ordained and laity.”
“We need each other to do the work that is needed in our churches,” she said.
She emphasizes the unity of faith shared by all who lead and help with Catholic Liturgy and worship.
“Though we are different in race, culture and at times spirituality, we all serve and love the one Lord,” she stated. “We all are a part of the beautiful tapestry made up of different threads, yet from the same cloth.”
Connection and openness
As preparation for both workshops, Mr. Cortez suggested reviewing the “Sacrosanctum Concilium,” the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, which was the first document to come out of the Second Vatican Council.
It can be found on the Vatican website by searching “Sacrosanctum Concilium.”
He asked for prayers for God “to help us connect to one another, as assembly, and to help us connect to one another as human beings and followers of Christ; that a spirit of compassion and mercy fill us all.”
Ms. Gray asked that people attend the workshop with an open mind, open heart and open hands to receive what is being shared.
She suggested praying “that we continue to ask the Lord for strength, courage and perseverance.”
“I thank all who will attend and be blessed by their participation,” she said. “I pray that we lift up our prayers of encouragement and success for what I know will be a wonderful, spiritual gathering.”
Register for either or both events by emailing email@example.com.
A form and invoice will be sent via email. The registration deadline is March 18.