Our parish is relatively young with many young families, children, teenagers and young adults. At the same time almost all of our ministries, outside of Altar Servers, caters to and is populated by older to middle-age parishioners. Our music ministries spread over three Masses also reflect an older style with the 5 pm. and 9 am. Masses featuring more of a Folk Mass feel. (Folk Masses feature mainly guitar(s) and voices and were a product of a musical style that followed the Second Vatican Council in North America. They had a more ‘folksy’ sound and the songs were arranged in a more contemporary style as opposed to the traditional organ and choir.) The 11:00 am. which offers a more traditional form of music with organ and choir is also largely not a youth-oriented venue for music. Though all of these different music ministries provide good, solid and dedicated service to the accompaniment of the Sunday liturgy, there hasn’t been a Mass that would be seen as meeting the needs or attracting our young people.
I approached John Von Zuben of our parish who has been involved in the leadership of music at the 5 pm. Mass at St. Leo the Great for 18 years now, asking him if he would be willing to step aside to allow the 5 pm. Mass to become our Youth Mass.
John answered with a question and a statement which were most commendable; “Do you think it will work?” was the question followed by, “If it’s for the good of the parish, then I am for it”. I had also approached parishioner Dennis Wardle, who has past experience leading young people in youth music ministry, to consider whether he would be interested and willing to take on the leadership of a Youth Mass band/choir and he said yes. The 5 pm. is an ideal time for a Youth Mass because the 9 and 11 am. Sunday Mass time slots wouldn’t be a time traditionally inviting to young people. The 5 pm., however, would be a late Saturday afternoon Mass for our young people while remaining one of the current three Mass times offered at St. Leo the Great. However, in my past experience with Youth Masses, many parishioners appreciate the sound, the easy but meaningful lyrics and the beautiful and moving way contemporary Catholic music leads to enhanced worship.
This weekend is the last 5 pm. Mass for the choir that has accompanied this Mass time for many years. In this group are those parishioners who have been here each Saturday afternoon and given of their time and talent to lead all of us in the worthy worship and praise of our God who comes to us in Word and Sacrament.
The 5 pm. Mass Choir consists of:
John Von Zuben
Mary Jo Von Zuben,
On behalf of all in the parish I wish to heartily thank all the members of the 5 pm. Mass for their music. We will host a reception following the 5 pm. Mass this weekend to allow an opportunity for our parishioners to express their own gratitude for their musical service. I’m sure this change will make many sad to see and hear the music that has become so familiar end. John Von Zuben himself has said, “This is an exciting time for St. Leo’s, and I pray that the Youth Mass will take flight!”
CHALLENGES OF OUR YOUTH MASS
The new Youth Mass will begin next Sunday November 15th at the 5 pm. Mass and it won’t be without its challenges. The acoustics in our church don’t lend well to the spoken word let alone to percussion, guitar, drums and keyboard. In an empty church the practicing youth sounds somewhat spacial as the different sounds are bouncing all over the place as it does with the spoken word added to the echo. It should sound better once there is a crowd in the church and we’re hoping it will. At some point in the history of St. Leo the Great we are going to have to seriously address our acoustic problems and basically do in the church what we’ve successfully done in the hall with well designed acoustic panels which won’t look like panels at all.
Please do all you can to support this new and hopefully ongoing and lasting venture and we will need your patience as we work out the kinks and problems. This youth band/choir will grow as more and more interested youth who would like to be a part of the band sing and play before the Lord. May this music enhance our worship life and include our young people who are a vital part of the whole that is St. Leo the Great Parish. (Fr. Charles)