Music Ministry at St. Mary’s
As the school year winds down, the students get busier, ha! Having been at St. Mary’s since 2003, I’ve seen them come and go, and come back for visits. And sometimes, as musicians, we actually end up playing and singing for their weddings! It is a wonderful ministry to be able to express together in music and words some of the most prayerful, sorrowful, and joyful utterances to the Lord. It is an important ministry and certainly rewarding for those who participate.
During this past Lenten season, we immersed ourselves in first learning, then teaching the Missa de Angelis (Mass of the Angels) Chant Mass. This was sung every week at all three Sunday Mass liturgies. I believe that many came to truly love and appreciate the beauty of this setting. I also believe it is important for the young to be educated in the history of the church and its precepts, but equally important for them to experience the church’s liturgy and traditions that have been handed down to us. Singing, chanting and meditation is something that is centuries old and we in the 21st Century are no different from those who came before. We still yearn for that serenity and inner joy that can be heard in cathedrals and churches of all sizes and shapes all over the world. Through the ages people have been enriched by new musical harmonies, instrumentation, styles of choral and solo singing, but we are still touched by the simple purity of chant. It transcends cultural boundaries.
Seven of our choir members just returned from a wonderful half-day choir retreat in Lufkin at the Dominican Sisters of the Infant Jesus Monastery. Through arrangements made with Sr. Maria Guadalupe, the students attended Mass, prayer and meditation with the sisters, watched a presentation of monastic life, and then had an opportunity to sing “Be Still” and “Song of Mary” for the sisters. Those who attended were Cassie DeBolt, Brittany Betik, Rachel Flores, Jordan Ronquillo, Jose Mesa, Joseph Heritage, and Kevin Montano. Cassie also played piano; Jose, guitar; and Kevin, cello.
The retreat was great! The Q&A session was very informative. One thing that was surprising was how diverse everyone’s background was. There were Dominican sisters from Africa, Asia, and all across the USA. There were also some sisters who had been nuns for over 50 years. There was a certain peaceful and joyfulness when we were with the sisters. They are always so happy and kind.”
- Cassie DeBolt
Assistant Music Director and SFA Sophomore Piano Major
“I'm not really sure where to begin. The retreat was such a wonderful experience. I will admit, I was apprehensive about going at first as life has just been so busy and hectic and the retreat was just right in the middle of it all. But I think it was wonderful because it was like a little escape from life and from the real world. It was a morning to just spend time in prayer, and with friends and truly inspirational women. Their lives seem so peaceful and so meaningful, I loved watching the video because we could really see what their daily lives are like and it was awesome to be able to talk to them and ask questions. I wish that I had planned better ahead of time so that I had questions prepared to ask them. I would love to go again and to do just that. I think the sisters really appreciated us taking the time to sing for them and I know we all really appreciated them taking time out of their days to spend with us. I am so glad that we were able to attend this retreat, seeing people dedicated entirely to their faith has been an inspiration, it makes me want to grow stronger in my faith.”
- Brittany Betik, Cantor and SFA Freshman
Participation in joyful song – whether it be in parish life, monastic life, liturgies, sacraments, or devotions – may actually lead us to prayerfully depend on the Holy Spirit for spiritual gifts, whose love enables us to defend and live our faith.
Linda Parr, Music Director