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Do you like to sing or play an instrument? Have you sung in choirs before, or are just excited to for the first time? Do you have a love for the church’s musical heritage of Gregorian chant and Renaissance polyphony? If you answer “yes” to ANY of the above questions, you may help the growth of the music ministry at Mater Dei, & the choir director would like to hear from you!
Who is the leader of this group?
My name is Kimberly Walters, and I am the music/choir director at Mater Dei. I have held this position since 2012, and have overseen the program’s tremendous growth as our community has blossomed. I have been at Mater Dei since they acquired the parish property in 2009. I have been a Catholic all my life, and have had a passion for church music ever since I was 6 years old. I work part-time for our wonderful parish, and the rest of my time is devoted to my family as a wife and mother.
What does your ministry/group bring to the Mater Dei community?
The choirs of Mater Dei mainly provide music for the high Mass liturgies at the parish on Sundays and major feast days. I am also currently interested in hearing from those who would like to possibly provide music for one of the low masses (11:30am or 1pm) 1x or 2x a month. But I would like to stress that singing for the Church is so much more than just singing for mass. Music, especially vocal music, has a profound effect on people’s experience of worship, and beautiful, sacred music uplifts people’s prayer in a way that the spoken word cannot. As the one who sings, it also becomes more intensely personal and fulfilling to you, when you truly strive to pray what you sing.
How many people serve in your group?
The Music Ministry has multiple choirs. There are currently two chant scholas (men/women separate);2 adult choirs (Sunday choir is ~24 singers, and Schola Marianum is a group of 14-16 singers); 2 children choirs (St. Gregory Boys choir ages 7-12, and St. Cecilia Girls Choir ages 7-12); and the Goretti Youth Choir (ages 13-18) There are about 70 children/youth total, involved in the younger choirs.
Any child age 7 or older can join the appropriate children’s choir; Teens interested in joining the youth choir have a short vocal assessment for me to determine their current vocal ability and knowledge of music; Adults interested in joining one of the choirs preferably know how to read music fairly well, and have some previous singing experience. Singing with Schola Marianum is by the director’s invitation. This smaller adult choir sings some of the more complex choral works in the annual repertoire. Participation in either chant schola requires a working knowledge of chant notation
How often does your group meet?
Chant Scholas meet Sundays at 8:15am, before the 9am high mass. Mater Dei Sunday Choir rehearses Wednesday evenings (7:30-9:30) and sings regularly for the 9am Sunday high mass. Schola Marianum rehearses Sundays 11am-12:30pm and sings for specific feast days, Christmas and Easter morning 9am mass, and often for weddings and funerals. Starting Fall 2016, the children choirs, and the youth choir, will all rehearse on Thursdays. Children choirs ea. rehearse for 1 hour, between 4-6pm, and the youth choir will likely rehearse 6:30-7:45pm.
What service opportunities does your group offer to members of the community?
The adult parish choirs serve the very heart of the parish, by making sung liturgies possible. We serve the prayer of our fellow parishioners, and enhance the liturgical life of the parish by singing for all major feast days, and striving to make other sung, liturgical events possible, like Tenebrae during Holy Week, sung processions, and a caroling service before Christmas midnight mass. The children choirs sing about 5 times a year, sometimes in processions, and now for our new, Mater Dei Christmas Pageant. The boys choir usually sings with the men’s schola once during each liturgical season. The youth choir is developing to help make more sung liturgical events possible, such as Rogation days and other, major class feasts. They also reached out to the local Irving community this year with a Christmas Caroling event!
As a general rule, singers are expected to attend rehearsals a minimum of 75% of the time, and for the adults, if rehearsal is missed, that you review music you missed on your own before the next rehearsal. For the children and youth choirs, besides rehearsals, some music homework is usually assigned most weeks, either with learning music notation or reviewing songs they are learning, or both. I can also fill out any paperwork you may need for this to qualify as art/elective if you homeschool.
What are some of the most rewarding parts of this service, and challenges?
For the adults, being involved in the music of the liturgy can greatly enhance your prayerful participation, and be part of a smaller group within the parish community. For the children, choir teaches them to value the cultural heritage of the Catholic arts, and raise a new generation of singing Catholics! For the youth/teens, it gives them a ministry of service in the parish, while challenging them to master a skill that is deeply personal and disciplining. It is a rewarding experience and the arts are so important to a well-rounded education, so why not have it be within the Church? It keeps them connected to their parish and gives them a ministry skill they can continue to foster as they grow into adulthood. With rehearsal time + liturgies, + DFW metro area traffic, probably one of the bigger challenges for some, can be the time commitment. For the children and youth, this also involves some music homework, and for families, dealing with the possibility that you have kids of varying ages in different choirs.
Any final thoughts?
At this stage in the music ministry’s development, I would like to request in particular, for parishioners to reach out to me if you are interested in music getting started at one of the low masses. I want to hear from anyone with singing, instrumental and/or leadership ability for this possible new branch of the ministry. Please let me know what experience you may have, and how you might want to be involved.
**Regular signups for the already-established adult, children, & youth choirs will occur near the beginning of summer, in the parish hall.** (likely in June)
Who to contact for more information about the Mater Dei Music Ministry?
If you are interested in the music ministry in any way, please contact Kimberly Walters at email@example.com, or by phone at 817-975-2934.