The Conference of Roman Catholic Cathedral Musicians (CRCCM) met virtually via Zoom, for its 38th annual gathering.  Joseph Balistreri designed and directed the gathering with technological assistance from the Detroit Archdiocesan Office of Process Data and Technology, and the CRCCM Steering Committee.

Tuesday, January 5

The conference began at in the evening with a virtual reception with approximately 45 Cathedral musicians in attendance (throughout the three days).  Joseph Balistreri welcomed everyone online; Brian Luckner, Chair of the CRCCM Steering Committee, read the CRCCM Statement of Purpose; and conference participants introduced themselves.  Conference participants enjoyed a few ice breakers in smaller Zoom rooms, where they could socialize with colleagues in smaller groups.

Wednesday, January 6

On Wednesday afternoon, the virtual conference continued with a presentation from the Reverend Andrew V. Menke, Executive Director of the USCCB Secretariat of Divine Worship.  Fr. Menke described several projects in progress in the Secretariat, which include the retranslation of the Lectionary for Mass, the Psalter, and the publication of a new translation of Divine Office.  With regard to the Lectionary for Mass and the Psalter, a major goal of these projects is to produce a Bible and a Lectionary which present the Sacred Scriptures from the exact same translation.  In addition, thanks to the work of the Benedictine monks of Conception Abbey in Missouri in producing The Abbey Psalms and Canticles, the USCCB intends to use this single English-language psalter for all liturgical publications.  This psalter would supersede the New American Bible Psalter as well as the various editions of the Grail Psalms.  Fr. Menke addressed the flaws of the current breviary, including various typos and the absences of proper scriptural and hagiographical readings for saints on the United States liturgical calendar.  He also discussed a joint publication venture between the USCCB and the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) of a new English-language Liber Hymnarius with Gregorian and other various hymn tunes.  Fr. Menke described the genesis and intention of the USCCB Doctrine Committee’s 2020 document “Catholic Hymnody at the Service of the Church: An Aid for Evaluating Hymn Lyrics”.  The primary intention, he said, was to provide a doctrinal framework for a bishop, pastor, and music director to use when evaluating liturgical music.  Fr. Menke underscored that the document presents a set of guiding theological and doctrinal principles, not an arbitrary blacklist of controversial hymns and songs.  Lengthy discussion among the conference participants revealed an opportunity for localized discussions within dioceses when navigating possible emotional reactions to (or pastoral misappropriations of) the document.

The meeting concluded with a moment of prayer for the nation’s capital, in response to news reports of violence at the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

Fr. Menke is a priest of the Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska.  He served the Holy See as an official at the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, during which time he earned a Licentiate in Sacred Liturgy at the Pontifical Institute of Liturgy.

Thursday, January 7

The virtual session on Thursday afternoon consisted of the CRCCM Business meeting.  Brian Luckner, Chair of the CRCCM Steering Committee, led the meeting.  Business topics included the establishment of a new CRCCM Endowment Fund; the development of a new Handbook for Officers; updated Guidelines for Hosts of the annual conference; a progress report on the CRCCM Archives; a description of the nomination and election processes for members of the Steering Committee; and the discussion of efforts to enhance the outreach and online presence of CRCCM through its website content.

The close of the business meeting marked the close of the 2021 Virtual Gathering.  Well-deserved appreciation was extended to Joseph Balistreri and the Detroit Archdiocesan Office of Process Data & Technology, as well as the CRCCM Steering Committee for organizing the gathering in the midst of pandemic restrictions.

The 2022 meeting of the CRCCM will take place in Little Rock, Arkansas, hosted by the Cathedral of Saint Andrew.

Brian F. Gurley is Choirmaster and Director of Music at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Albany, New York.


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