You have heard the old adage, “neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail shall keep the postmen from their appointed rounds.” Well, in Omaha it was “neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail shall keep the Conference of Roman Catholic Cathedral Musicians from their annual conference, January 3-6, 2005. The weather during our stay was filled with snow, sleet and cold driving winds; however, it did not deter us from experiencing a wonderful conference. The transportation company for the conference was concerned that buses would not have the ability to move through the fifteen inches of snow received during our stay, so conference participants were escorted in Hummer limousines.
The twenty-second Conference began with a brief introduction to the conference and introduction of conference participants. A number of new members were introduced.
The first session of the conference followed with the first part of a discussion on The Priestly Ministry of the Choir. This discussion was led by Fr. Anthony Ruff, OSB from St. John’s Abbey. In this first of three sessions given to the topic, Fr. Ruff looked at theological considerations regarding the Liturgical Choir. He examined the choir through documents and instruction, noting the preconciliar problem and the shift in the view of the choir beginning with the second Vatican council and following.
Let it snow! Our first visit to the Cathedral. The second session was presented by Most Rev. Allen Vigneron, Bishop of Oakland and Chair of the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy Music Subcommittee. Bishop Vigneron spoke about The Musical Vision of “Liturgiam Authenticam.” In this session he examined the document and offered some insight into the challenges presented in this document. In this examination he notes that “the choices we make affect the way the people worship and their spiritual lives.” As paragraph 12 of the Ceremonial of Bishops notes, the Cathedral serves as a model for the rest of the diocesan church. As such there are three qualities needed by Cathedral musicians. First, we have a multi-layered and sharply focused awareness; second, we must have a feel for the patterns and rhythms of God’s history of giving himself; and third, a mastery of the biblical and theological story. These three qualities are important because words and actions show forth doctrine (as noted in Dei Verbum paragraph 2.)
During his presentation he spoke of paragraph 108 of Liturgiam Authenticam and the submission of music and texts for approved use in the liturgy. This initiated a number of questions and a discussion between participants and Bishop Vigneron regarding procedure and practicality.
Following Bishop Vigneron’s presentation, we had an opportunity to tour the St. Cecelia Cathedral. The tour, led by Br. William Woeger, FSC, Director of the Office for Divine Worship for the Archdiocese of Omaha, highlighted its history and architecture. Eucharist followed, presided by Bishop Vigneron. Eucharist, celebrating the memorial of Elizabeth Ann Seton, was completely a cappella utilizing chants from By Flowing Waters and David Hurd’s New Plainsong ordinary.
The afternoon highlighted the pipe organ with a session presented by Dr. Craig Cramer (Building Organs for Cathedral Churches in America) and a demonstration of the Martin Pasi & Associates, Opus 14 in the gallery of the Cathedral. This dual-temperament organ is comprised of 55-stops over three manuals and pedal. The organ replaces a 37-rank electro-pneumatic instrument from 1918 by the one-time firm of Casavant Bros. of South Haven, Michigan.
The day concluded with a free evening to enjoy wonderful restaurants and sights in Omaha’s Old Market. (And yes, the Hospitality Suite in rooms 127-128 can not be forgotten!)
More Snow! On Wednesday, we were greeted with more snow in the forecast to add to the approximate 10 inches that were received on Tuesday!
Our fifth session continued Fr. Anthony Ruff’s discussion on The Priestly Ministry of the Choir which looked at integrating repertoire and ritual. He offered a number of questions for reflection to integrate the choir into the liturgy.
The morning concluded with our Annual Business Meeting with the following items on the agenda:
1. Annual Election: Nominations were made from the floor for the annual election. Those nominated included: Tony DiCello (Cincinnati, OH), John Romeri (St. Louis, MO), Glenn Osborne (Albany, NY), Scott W. Eakins (Milwaukee, WI), Angela Weber (Rapid City, SD), and Horst Buchholz (Denver, CO). Ballots will be mailed February 1 with the election concluding March 1.
2. Treasurer’s Report: There are currently 108 paid Cathedrals from the US and Canada. Lee highlighted income/expenses for the past year. Complete report available upon request.
3. Death of member John Vanella, Duluth, MN. A donation, in the name of CRCCM, was made in memory of John Vanella to the Cathedral of Our Lady in Duluth, MN. We extend our sympathy to John’s family, friends and Cathedral parishioners.
4. Membership: Frank Zajac was thanked for his work with membership. Phil Brisson has agreed to take over his responsibility. A regional membership representative was needed in the Texas Region. Brian Bentley from Dallas agreed to fill this post. A question was posed regarding the alignment of our regions. Following discussion, it was decided to look at this as a long-term item for discussion.
5. Future Conference Schedule:
a. 2006 – Cologne, Germany (Cathedral Rectors/ Staff meeting in Seattle, WA)
b. 2007 – Milwaukee, Wisconsin
c. 2008 – TBD, possibly with Cathedral Rectors/ Staff. There was a lengthy discussion regarding meeting with Cathedral Rectors/Staff. Concerns were expressed that our conference be afforded an opportunity to complete conference business and formation during this combined conference. Item was tabled for further discussion by the Steering Committee.
6. Spiritual Advisor: Fr. Anthony Ruff was appointed our Spiritual Advisor for the following year.
7. Tsunami Relief Donation: A motion was made to make a donation of $1000 to Catholic Relief in the name of CRCCM to assist victims of the Tsunami. After a brief discussion, motion passed.
8. Thank You: Kevin Vogt, St. Cecilia Cathedral and staff were thanked for their wonderful preparation and hospitality during this twenty-second conference.
9. Tax Exemption Status: Our Tax Exemption Status is nearing completion. Final papers are to be filed in the near future.
10. Administrative Assistant: The hiring of an Administrative Assistant has been postponed while a job description is developed further.
11. Cologne, Germany – Conference 2006: After a brief overview of possibility for the 2006 Conference, those in attendance were polled as to their possible participation. A number noted the possibility of attendance. More information to be distributed late spring/early summer.
Returning to the Cathedral, the afternoon began with our seventh session led by Joe Worthing, Development Consultant and Cathedral parishioner, regarding Catholic Keys to Institutional Advancement. Mr. Worthing notes, “Development is not fundraising, it is relationship building. Donations are what you reap from sowing genuine interest in others.” In presenting the “Development Circle” he challenged us to “never get between the Holy Spirit and a donor. Your job is to give them the opportunity to say yes to the Spirit.”
Following a brief break, Kevin Vogt and Greg Glenn spoke about Institutional Paradigms for Fostering Choirs (Choir Schools). Each highlighted the history of their programs and the challenges that they encountered during their formation. Following their presentation a number of questions were raised for discussion regarding programming, formation and patronage of the arts.
Evening Prayer was celebrated in Our Lady of Nebraska Chapel. At the conclusion of the liturgy, all sang Paul Manz’s anthem E’en So, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come in memory of our friend and colleague John Vanella.
On Wednesday Evening, we were to attend a Concert of the Saint Cecilia Cantorum; however due to the cancellation of rehearsals the previous evening (all that snow!) the concert was cancelled. In its place, Fr. Anthony Ruff, OSB, presented a special session on the Spirituality of Chant.
And yes, we must not forget that upon our return to the hotel, the Hospitality Suite in rooms 127-128!
No more snow! Thursday we were greeted with sunshine and a wonderful day to travel to Boys’ Town and St. Vincent de Paul Parish.
We began the morning with the final session of Fr. Anthony Ruff’s discussion on The Priestly Ministry of the Choir. In this final session he integrated the first two sessions with Spirituality and offered us three challenges in regard to musical standards; inadequate music and musicianship; and cultivation of the treasury of sacred music.
The afternoon was spent at Boys’ Town and St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Parish. At Boys’ Town we toured the Hall of History and learned more about Fr. Flanigan and his mission to assist troubled boys. Moving to Doud Memorial Chapel, Richard Proulx shared the history of The Boys Town Church Music Workshops and their significance to the formation of church musicians and their significance for several of our members.
At St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Parish, Br. William Woeger, gave us a tour of this recently constructed parish church/complex. Beautifully constructed and appointed, this church is an example of thoughtful planning and preparation in post-conciliar theology and architecture. Before returning to the hotel, members shared compositions and projects with conference participants.
The final evening of the conference was spent at the Durham Western Heritage Museum for our annual Banquet. The Museum is a restored art deco train station and was a wonderful setting for our final gathering of the conference.
Despite the snow, sleet and driving cold winds, this was a wonderful and enriching conference. We thank Kevin Vogt, the Cathedral music staff, and all those who helped make this a very successful conference.