Saturday, August 16, 2014

Oh-missions

A long, long time ago, back before I went to seminary, while I was still a Normal Person, while I was working in a large windowless building at the Navy Yard (which as of this month has just been completely demolished, by the way) I used to remind my buddy Mike about Holy Days of Obligation.  He was a regular Mass-goer at his parish in Alexandria, but never saw the Holy Days (HDO’s, as we called them in those days when we had an acronym for everything) coming.  So I would mention them in conversation; he would smack his forehead, and then make it to Mass.
Well, I blew it this time.  Last weekend I completely left out of the announcements the Holy Day this week, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary!  It is not as if I forgot about it; in fact, right before I typed up the one lonely announcement, I printed out the intercessions for the Holy Day Mass.    I am desperately sorry that I failed to put this important day on your “to do” list early in the week!
August is not a time for making big news or big announcements, usually, especially in our political city.  But I would like to draw your attention to the arrival of our new parish Music Director, John Henderson.  John is graduate of Catholic University’s music program, currently pursuing a Master of Music degree at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore.  He comes to us from just down the road at Christ the King parish, and has also played at Saint Matthew’s Cathedral downtown.  Perhaps as important as any education or experience in music, however, is that he is a southerner – from Pensacola, Florida (where people are southerners, not displaced yankees, by the way). 
John is eager to work with our music program, about which apparently there is a very good “buzz” in local church music circles.  One of his main goals will be to integrate and give strong direction to the all the talented folks who work so hard on our liturgical music, who have been under short-term leadership for a full year now, since Richard Fitzgerald announced his departure. 
John is also eager to launch a very important addition to our music program: a Parish Youth Choir.   The choir will include our young people from across the parish community, including those in our parish school, as well as those in other local schools and home school.  This is something that I have been trying to initiate for several years, but had to postpone because of the changes of the past year.  Watch this space for news!
I want to thank Eric Lewis, who joined our program last fall and took over as Interim Music Director during the winter.  He has done a fine job of leading our choirs and musicians not only in music but in prayer.  He plans to continue singing with us as he pursues his degree in conducting at CUA.  He has made rich and delightful contributions to every Mass in which he has participated, and I am very glad for his continued presence as much as for his fine tenor voice.
I should also draw your attention to Al Hart, who helped lead the 9:00 Mass choir, and accompanied it (and a few other Masses, when there was a pinch!) on the piano.  Al is a man of many talents who seems to be able to do anything musically, and to have done it all at one time or another in his varied career.  He also has the deepest bass voice of anyone I have ever met from outside Russia.
During that interim, we have also been blessed to have several excellent musicians accompanying us on our fine organ: Terry Manspeaker, who played most of our 5:00 and 11:00 Masses; and Paul Campbell, Katie Yeago, Matt Mueller and David Knupp, who played on an ad hoc basis; all maintained the consistently high level of musicianship we have grown to expect here.   I thank them all, and I know they would be grateful for your prayers.

Monsignor Smith

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