Pastoral musicians from across the country gathered at the Galt House Hotel in downtown Louisville for the opening ceremony of the 45th National Association of Pastoral Musicians convention June 28.
Archbishop Shelton J. Fabre welcomed the gathering, telling them he hopes the event will serve to strengthen them in their ministry. He also thanked the musicians and said music, like prayer, should “call people to action.”
Those gathered heard from Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, Texas, who delivered the first keynote address entitled “Veni Creator Spiritus.”
Bishop Seitz opened his keynote by asking the musicians “Have you received the Holy Spirit?”
“I’m not expecting you to walk out of here speaking in tongues,” he said, noting he did want them to be filled with the Holy Spirit and the Spirit’s gifts. “We can’t do our work, we can’t live without the work of the Holy Spirit,” said the bishop. “The glory of God is a human being fully alive. We can’t be a Christian without the gifts of the Spirit.”
The convention’s theme was “Tested by Fire: Renewed and Transformed.” Bishop Seitz said renewal and transformation are “what the spirit does.” Over the past two years, the bishop said that people have been tested. “This tiny little virus came along and turned things upside down,” he said. Instead of the music that filled churches, there was silence. “Singing was bad for your health,” he said. For pastoral musicians, that may have felt like “the floor had been taken out from under your life’s work,” he said.
Bishop Seitz said to the gathering that though their ministry has been tested, their work is essential to the church. “I believe you are an essential cog in the renewal God is calling us to,” he said. “Let’s pray that the Spirit will guide us.”
Jennifer Kluge, who serves as the association’s national director, said the convention’s theme spoke to the challenges pastoral musicians have faced over the past two years.
The 2020 convention was canceled due to the pandemic. As the parishes are coming out of the pandemic, pastoral music directors across the nation are trying to find a “path forward,” she said. “As churches continue to re-open and members of the faithful return, liturgical music directors are finding that things have changed,” she said. They are finding that choirs are smaller because some worshippers are not ready to return. Some parishes are being clustered and now require only one music director. “Directors are figuring out that parishes have not gone back to the way they were doing things,” she said. Yet the mission of making liturgical music better remains the same. “We’re always looking for ways to improve,” she said.