Franciscan Sister Kathleen Murphy attended the National Pastoral Musicians Convention in Cincinnati, OH. It’s purpose was to foster the art of musical liturgy. The members of NPM serve the Catholic Church in the United States as musicians, clergy, liturgists, and other leaders of prayer. A full time kindergarten teacher, Sister Kathleen also leads the adult choir, serves as Director of Religious Education and plans children’s school liturgies at St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Greenwood, MS.
It is a privilege and a joy to experience the National Pastoral Musicians Convention. This is a gathering of nearly 1500 Church musicians and liturgists of all description from all over the U.S. and from other countries as well. It provides a chance to gain knowledge and inspiration in the areas of music from contemporary to chant, from vocal to instrumental, from liturgical to inspirational; liturgical topics such as the use of antiphons in the Mass, bringing cultural richness to the liturgy, promoting celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours, planning Taize prayer experiences; network with professional composers, liturgists and musicians to learn from their experience and to make connections that may lead to appearances on a local level for revivals, parish missions or retreats. It is not often that one gets to sight read dozens of new pieces of liturgical music along with over 1000 professional musicians. It is truly awe inspiring!
A song that is particularly touching for me is Jesse Manibusan’s Hold On To Love. Its simple but beautiful melody reminds us to hold on to the person of Love, Jesus in all circumstances. An idea that sticks with me came from a retreat morning led by Lorraine Hess. She lives in New Orleans and she reflected on her experience of Hurricane Katrina. She watched the water rising from her home which lay below sea level, behind the levee. As the water prepared to overflow and she and her family evacuated she remembers the physical reality that water will flow to and fill the lowest place. She likened this truth to the movement of God’s mercy in us. His loving mercy will flow to the lowest place in our hearts and there He longs to heal us. Beautiful! I am grateful for having the chance to experience this amazing event!