Nativity teenagers learn music ministry skills at camp

Maria Milazzo and Nativity of Mary alums who answered the One Call music camp call, Naomi, Isabel and Faustina. (Photo/courtesy Maria Milazzo)

By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Associate Editor

INDEPENDENCE — Music ministry isn’t all do … re … me.

A parish music minister must be musically talented, of course, but he or she needs to also have some teaching skills, training in Liturgy, and be familiar with technology in music.

One way to get all those is by attending music camps.

This past summer, Maria Milazzo, Nativity of Mary School music teacher and choir director and member of the Diocesan Choir, took three young women of the parish to One Call, a six-day program at St. John’s University, Collegeville, Minn. According to its website, the program is designed to provide opportunities for participants to grow musically, theologically, spiritually, and communally. Specifically, its mission is the formation of young people and their advocates to maximize their gifts of music and leadership in service to the liturgy.

Milazzo heard of One Call through John Winkels, Director of Music and Liturgy at Holy Family Parish, and decided to broach it to several Nativity School alums she thought might benefit from the camp.

Isabel, a freshman at St. Teresa’s Academy, Faustina, a freshman at St. Michael the Archangel High School, and Naomi, a freshman at Raytown High School, liked the idea. They graduated from Nativity last spring, and have been members of the parish Youth Choir, performed in the school’s musicals and wanted to be part of the parish’s music ministry.

Milazzo, who has a B.A. in Performance from Westminster Choir College in New Jersey and a M.A. in Music Performance from U.M.K.C., said they arrived at St. John’s University expecting a nice program, learning some cantoring and maybe some theology. Instead they were blown away by the courses, the energy and the other students and the adults with them.

She said the program originated with David Haas, the Catholic composer who wrote “We Are Called,” and the “Servant Song” among many others. In 1999, Haas began the program ‘Music Ministry Alive!’, a five-day liturgical program for youth and adult leaders at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, Minn. He took the program idea to the National Association of Pastoral Musicians (NPM), and recently One Call took over its management and programming. This was its first year at St. John’s.

The three teens from Nativity joined four others from Holy Family that Winkels had sent to the program, and Milazzo joined about 25 other adults known as Advocates.

‘We researched statistics on numbers of youth in the Church,” she recalled. “took Theology classes with Father Michael Joncas, who wrote “On Eagles Wings,” classes on Ministerial Corps, Faith in Action, went to a presentation on pottery — art is part of our faith! We had training in cantoring for choir members, in youth involvement in parishes, basically what are we doing and how do we do it successfully. I was inspired to become a liturgist. We all came back so energized!”

Milazzo said the girls made friends and are still in touch with many of the 66 young people at the camp.

“They learned so much from each other! Some of the college students put together a concert at the end of the week, which was awesome. The teenagers learned and did what they learned. Our Nativity girls have talent and so much heart for the music ministry! They came back here with a plethora of knowledge about the ministry and cantoring.”

Milazzo added, “Our parish choir rehearsals started in August and all three girls joined the choir as cantors and singers. It energized all of us! They want to go back to the music camp, and so do I.”


  1. October 14, 2018 at 5:06 pm #

    This is so wonderful! We need to support more programs like this for our teens in music ministry; something that teaches leadership and develops skills. I hope this becomes an annual event supported in our diocese.

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October 23, 2020
The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph