Pastoral musicians have toiled, unsung and alone, without the camaraderie found in workshops and archdiocesan groups.
But Cardinal William H. Keeler recently approved a Baltimore chapter of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, giving musicians an organization that can provide training, ideas, and even a place to showcase original compositions.
“The Baltimore chapter has struggled to get going,” said Michael Ruzicki, chapter director and pastoral associate for liturgy and music at Resurrection of Our Lord, Laurel. “But this June we had a full election of board members and Cardinal Keeler signed the approval, so we’re a full chapter and we have a full calendar events – everything from cantor training to making aids for liturgy.”
The new chapter has 36 members so far. Two years ago, a retreat for musicians at Resurrection drew 12 participants; last year it had more than 50.
“It showed the absolute need and how thirsty our musicians are,” Mr. Ruzicki says. “We need to be kind of a catechetical tool for each other.”
He noted that unlike many other dioceses, the Archdiocese of Baltimore does not have a liturgy and music office, which makes the chapter all the more important to musicians. The chapter will publish its first newsletter in September; after a hard copy for the first issue, electronic issues will follow. The chapter also established a Web site, www.npmbalt.org, complete with original works from parish musicians.
All types of musicians are welcome, says Mr. Ruzicki, “from guitarists to little old choir ladies.”
“We have been so excited,” said JoAnne Ibex, assistant director for recruitment and director of liturgy and music at St. Michael the Archangel, Overlea. “There’s a whole lot of energy – it’s very positive.” She added that choir directors appreciate the chance to share ideas and ask their colleagues if they worked at other parishes. St. Michael the Archangel will be the site of a chapter-sponsored cantor workshop on Jan. 26, 2008.
“To have something local is just tremendous,” Ms. Ibex said. “The educational opportunities, sharing info and supporting one another are the three basic things that do it for me. It inspires us so we can go back and inspire our assemblies.”