Catholic Free Press

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  • Oct
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Singing, learning the musical language of the Church

Posted By October 13, 2011 | 1:12 pm | Lead Story #1, Local
Ray Yu WEB

By Tanya Connor

The Catholic Church’s musical language covers 2,000 years and Ray Yu, interim music director at St. Paul Cathedral, wants the diocese to know that language.
Music ministry is not just about singing songs, says Ms. Yu. She hopes to engage the entire diocese through the cathedral music program with what she calls a ministry-minded program, not merely a performance-minded one.
“I am a catechist and my focus will be catechetical. We will do concerts too,” she said.
Forming a children’s choir with youngsters from around the diocese and meeting with parish musicians to see if there is interest in forming a chapter of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians are two projects Ms. Yu is tackling this month.
She said she hopes to build a collaborative relationship among parish music ministers and the cathedral.
Ms. Yu said the cathedral is the mother church of the diocese, the hub for musicians in other parishes, and she wants everyone to feel welcome there.
Auditions for a choir of students in grades 1-8 will be held from 1-3 p.m. Oct. 22 in St. Paul’s ministry center on Chatham Street, across from the cathedral.
A gathering for adults and teenagers from around the diocese who are involved or interested in music ministry is to be held from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Oct. 29 in St. George Parish hall, 38 Brattle St. Ms. Yu said the meeting and pot luck lunch is free and open to all, including clergy, organists, cantors and choir directors and members.
It is to enable participants to learn new music, exchange ideas, socialize, and vote about establishing a local chapter of the NPM.
If they vote to petition the national office to establish a chapter, a temporary chapter, or charter, will be formed, Ms. Yu said. After a year, if the charter meets the requirements, it can become a permanent chapter.
This would be the only chapter in Massachusetts, said Ms. Yu, who was a member of a chapter in Kansas City, Mo., before moving to the Worcester Diocese six years ago. She said chapters’ goals are to deepen pastoral musicians’ spiritual life, encourage their social interaction, provide an educational forum for them and the clergy, and improve their musical, liturgical, pastoral and leadership skills.
“The assembly of the Church has an active role in the music ministry,” Ms. Yu said. “And the music minister’s job, in a parish, is about helping the assembly to successfully and actively participate in our sacred liturgy.”
She said one of challenges musicians will face is the implementation of the new English-language translation of the Roman Missal, especially parts that are often sung: the Kyrie, Gloria, Eucharistic Acclamations and Agnus Dei.
The Oct. 29 meeting will include “a musical showcase” where participants can get ideas for introducing to their parishes new music for these parts of the Mass and practice singing some of them, she said. It will also enable them to share their ideas and experiences with small groups and present findings to the larger group.
Ms. Yu said she would like to form a children’s choir to expose elementary school students to “a wide range of music that the Church has to offer, and the skills needed to sing (vocal, theoretical, theological and spiritual).” She and her husband, Brandon Vennink, music director at Blessed John Paul II Parish in Southbridge, have three children, ages 8, 4 and 2. Their 8-year-old, Johann Vennink, sings at Blessed John Paul II Parish and sometimes at the cathedral, she said.
“Children are a very important part of our spiritual life,” Ms. Yu said. ”When a child is baptized, all witnesses promise to raise him/her in faith. In many traditions, faith is passed on through music. Our Church is no exception.
“I would like to offer an opportunity for these children to learn about our Church through music. This way, the children can also learn to actively participate in our liturgy. And the adults in our assembly also would have a sense of helping the next generation grow in faith. How wonderful it would be to have different generations singing together!”
Oct. 22, interested children can audition for this choir, which is to sing monthly at the 10:15 a.m. Sunday Mass at the cathedral, beginning on the Feast of Christ the King, Nov. 20.
Rehearsals, complete with interactive games, are to be held from 1-3 p.m. every Saturday in St. Paul’s ministry center. All youth are welcome, whether or not they are members of St. Paul’s.

– Those wishing to attend the Oct. 29 gathering are asked to R.S.V.P. to Peter Brockmann at, and arrange what to bring for the pot luck lunch.