St. Matthew Church | Glendale Heights, Illinois

Going to take a Sentimental Journey…

Once in a while, my mom would sit down at the piano and play ‘Sentimental Journey.’ Because of that, just hearing the song makes me glow a bit on the inside and start humming along. Of course, you might not like that style of music, calling it boring. Maybe you enjoy heavy metal and a little head-banging; that might make your neighbor cover his ears or at least close the window. And finally, you might be like my dad who loves country music—as long as the country is Hungary. We all have different tastes in music; what is common is that music moves us. Sure, it moves us all around and in different ways, but it still moves us. The challenging part about music at Mass is that we have to use it to help move us to heaven.

During the past four years here, many people have mentioned the music at Mass. Your comments have covered a wide range of responses and often in opposition to each other. “Make the music more traditional” vs. “Make the music more contemporary.” “It’s too loud” vs. “It’s not lively enough.” “I want my old favorites” vs. “Why is there nothing new?” After these responses, people will tell me, “Well, why don’t you do something about it?” I have. I listened to those who have approached me. I noticed that the feedback was not overly weighed in one direction or the other. So I decided, after listening, to continue as we have been doing, for the most part. I love to hear you sing to God on Sundays.

It’s interesting to me that no one has ever asked—and asked is an important word here—no one has ever asked me, “How can we praise God better with our music?” I think that is the most important question. How can we, as a Catholic parish, in Glendale Heights, yet part of the whole Catholic Church throughout history, how can St. Matthew parish worship God through our music? Because Mass is not a concert—orchestral or rock. Mass is the highest prayer of our Catholic church, where heaven and earth are united. It is where we are trying to listen to the beautiful way God serenades us, then to get caught up in that music, to let it fill us, and raise us up to heaven. That’s a different way of looking at things, isn’t it?

Two weeks ago we had an unforeseen vacancy in our music department as Brian Wrightson withdrew from his position as parish musician and school musician and teacher. The need for coverage at Sunday Mass and School Masses moved me to discuss our current music coverage for the entire parish. After talking with the parish council and finance council, I have decided to hire a full-time Director of Sacred Music at the parish. This person would be needed to play at Mass and direct and develop our parish choir needs, as well as cover weddings and funerals. Robert Fulda has been doing an outstanding job part-time, but in my judgment the current needs of the parish really require full-time coverage. For example, I think it is important that our young people and new parishioners learn to sing and praise our Lord along with our faithful parishioners who have been doing so well for so long. I would love to see a choir developed for our funerals so that through our music, the comfort of God can reach our parish families who mourn the loss of their loved ones. None of that can be done part-time. With your generosity to the parish, I believe we are now in a position to invest in our sacred music ministry with a full-time commitment. My hope in the weeks ahead is to have prospective candidates for the new position visit our parish and play at our Masses. This way they will get to know us and we will get to know them. You can offer your input before I make a decision.

So we’ll want to thank Robert Fulda for his faithful service to our Lord and to you. God bless him for his generosity. We’ll also want to welcome the new director of Sacred Music when she or he arrives. We are many people with many tastes and talents, but it is still the love of Jesus that brings us together. His life, death, and resurrection—this is the most beautiful musical composition. The song of his life is the song of our salvation. How can we best praise him with our sacred music?

With my prayers,

Fr. Jerome