Every parish has a story

Dr. Mario Pearson, Diocesan Director of Music, Liturgy, and Technology, directs the Cathedral Choir during the Chrism Mass, March 22. (Key photo/Megan Marley)

By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Associate Editor

KANSAS CITY — In the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph there are 27 counties, and in those counties are 98 Catholic parishes and missions in 14 Deaneries. Some are large, with many resources, others small with fewer resources and many in between.

But, as Mario Pearson, Ph.D., diocesan Director of Music, Liturgy and Technology and principal organist for the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, said, “Every parish has needs and every parish has a story.”

Dr. Pearson and Sister of Mercy Claudette Schiratti, formerly with the diocesan Office of Worship and an organist, free-lance musician and organ teacher, plan to travel throughout the diocese over the next year or so, meeting with priests and parishioners in each Deanery to get acquainted, connect them and with them, and get a sense of the parish pulse—of their needs, dreams and talents.

“We want to build relationships with the parishes,” Dr. Pearson said, “and support them talking to, not at each other. The Church is relational and that’s important to remember. The Office of Divine Worship is in a position to help parishes build relationships, learn about available resources, and collaborate with each other. Connections and collaborations strengthen and support our parishes! We want parishes to tell us what the Office can do to help them.”

Sister Claudette concurred, and expanded his comment.

“The Office of Worship can assist and help grow the talents of parish musicians,” she said, “and honor the gifts of all our musicians. Music is a vital part of liturgy, and for that reason we are asking that priests and musicians in a deanery be included in the meetings. Faith grows when it’s well expressed in celebration. Celebrations can foster and nourish faith. Faith fuels dreams.”

“As musicians, it is our responsibility to assists the priests in the celebration of liturgy, so we need to be the best-trained we can be. Poor celebrations can weaken faith. There is a lot of talent in this diocese, both instrumental and vocal, and it’s important to develop it.”

Dr. Pearson and Sister Claudette have been working with the Office of Worship to schedule three evening meetings this fall. They plan to start in Deanery VII, which includes Nevada, Osceola, Rich Hill, Butler, Montrose, Clinton, Urich, Windsor, Holden and Warrensburg. Then they will meet with priests, musicians and parishioners in Deanery VIII — Oak Grove, Odessa, Buckner, Lexington, Higginsville, Richmond, Norborne and Carrollton, followed by Deanery IX — Easton, Plattsburg, Cameron, Hamilton, Chillicothe, Trenton, Princeton, Bethany, Gallatin and Maysville. The following dates and times are tentative: 7 – 9 p.m., Oct. 22, Oct. 30 and Nov. 8. Meetings in the other Deaneries will be scheduled beginning in 2019; for updated information, visit www.kcgolddome.org or email mpearson@kcgolddome.org.

The goal of the meetings is the continued creation of parish relationships with other deanery parishes as they discuss music in liturgy in their parishes and in the diocese, and pastors and musicians share what is happening with liturgical music in their parishes.

Sister Claudette has been involved in church music since grade school, and recently celebrated her 60th anniversary of her profession as a Mercy Sister. She said she has learned much over the years, and continues to learn about faith, liturgy, relationships and music, including the history of church music — chant, followed by polyphony, hymnody and contemporary liturgical music — centuries of traditions and new ideas.

“Our faith is a big umbrella,” she said. “Under it are the traditions of centuries past and the openness to new ideas. I hope these meetings will tell us how the musicians, priests and parishioners think we can grow from where we are today.”

Dr. Pearson added that there are a number of resources available to aid and assist parish musicians: for example, the National Association of pastoral Musicians, which fosters the art of musical liturgy. NPM members serve the U.S. Catholic Church as musicians, clergy, liturgists and other prayer leaders. NPM chapters in Kansas City, Kan., and Kansas City, Mo., work together to offer workshops for cantors and choirs and recently offered one at St. Joseph Parish in Shawnee, Kan.

Another resource he mentioned is OCP, a self-supporting, non-profit Catholic publisher of liturgical music in English and Spanish. Sister Claudette said Christie Ottinger, Music and Liturgy coordinator for St. Joseph Parish, Easton, held a workshop for choirs and musicians this past summer.

Dr. Pearson said they will be there at the meetings to listen and learn, serve as conduit for the Office of Worship to connect with the parishes and offer assistance in music and liturgy where it is needed and wanted.

“We’re not telling people what to do and what not to do,” he said. “We want to hear their stories.”


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September 26, 2020
The Diocese of Kansas City ~ St. Joseph