Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of July 17, 2006
Discover the spirit in a song
Liturgical course allows students to discover the link between the music and the Mass
- WCR photo by Ramon Gonzalez
Dawn Kirvan, left, director of the Summer School in Liturgical Studies, and Heidi Epp look on as Maureen Bedford blends music with the spiritual meaning.
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Maureen Bedford has been involved in music ministry since age 12. But it wasn't until she enrolled in the Summer School in Liturgical Studies that she actually started to see what her ministry was all about.
"I learned respect for the assembly's voice," said the music minister and chair of the liturgy committee at Good Shepherd Parish in Edmonton. "When we first come to music ministry, as musicians it's all about the music and it's all about getting the right note and playing the right songs."
As Bedford grew in music ministry, she started to understand that music has to relate to what's happening in the liturgy. But it was when she came to the summer school in 2000 that she began to hear the assembly's voice and appreciate its value.
"Before (I came to the summer school), the assembly was just coming along for the ride. If they sang, that was good: if they didn't sing, it was okay too. Now I experience God through hearing and seeing people sing. What I give to the liturgy, the assembly gives back to me tenfold."
Bedford, who is expected to graduate this year, is one of 30 adult Catholics taking part in the first leg of the summer school, which runs July 3 to 16. Thirty students are also expected to attend the second session, July 17 to 27. About half of those taking the first session will stay for the second.
This year there are students from throughout Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories at the summer school being held at Newman Theological College. St. Joseph Seminary provides accommodation to those from out of town.
"This is more than an academic program; there is formation, there is a change," says Bedford, a mother of four.
The summer school prepares students to have liturgies that are "life-giving as opposed to lifeless," she said. "I feel a very strong responsibility to bring back to my parish this experience, to bring back to my parish not only my (new) understanding of liturgy but also to bring back some leadership, values, direction and nurturing for other ministers in my parish."
"My understanding, my emotional connection, my level of commitment, my spirituality around what I do in liturgy is changed. And my relationship with God, my spirituality has become deeper and more meaningful. I feel closer to God during liturgy now."
Dawn Kirvan, director of the liturgical school, said a few participants are paid ministers, but the majority are volunteer lay people involved in parish liturgical ministries who want to better serve their parish. Many have their tuition fees and expenses paid by their parishes or dioceses.
The school offers 12 practical courses such as music repertoire, liturgical art and environment, liturgical prayer, the Eucharist, an introduction to Christian Initiation of Adults and a practicum in ministry.
"Students also participate in various liturgical celebrations each day, including morning and evening prayer and a celebration of the Eucharist," Kirvan noted. "We want to build a community of prayer and to teach people how to build a community of prayer, not only through the courses, but also through experiencing that while they are here."
Summer school instructor Linda Boire, who teaches Introduction to Liturgy, says the school seeks to help lay people understand the liturgy better so that they and their parishes can get more out of it.
"(In my course) I teach what liturgy is, the meaning of ritual, the meaning of symbol, why we use them and the relationship of liturgy and music, liturgy and justice and liturgy and the sacraments. There is a very practical aspect to it."
Heidi Epp, 26, coordinator of the liturgy office for the Diocese of Prince Albert, Sask., said the diocese sent her to the summer school. "They want me to keep learning," she said. This is her second summer at Newman. She can only attend for two weeks every summer because she has young children at home.
So far, the experience has been worthwhile for the young liturgist. "I've learned more specifics of why things happen the way they do, like the behind-the-scenesdetails that you take for granted," she explained. "I actually understand some of them now."
Epp has also come to realize that no matter what you're doing, you need to do it well in order for everybody else to get the same meaning from it. "If you are reading, you have to be able to know how to proclaim the word so that other people don't just hear a bunch of words but actually feel what the reading is about."
But music is Epp's forte.
"I really like the music part of the liturgy," she said, as she practised on the piano the music for the evening's prayer service.
Students must complete 12 courses to get a certificate in liturgical studies. Most take four classes each summer. There is a graduation every year for people who have completed the 12 courses.
Newman College, the liturgy commission of the Edmonton Archdiocese, the Western Conference for Liturgy and the National Office for Liturgy sponsor the summer school.