By Karen Clifford
SOUTH BEND — Often as we travel from our place of work to home, our thoughts gravitate to the day’s pressures and challenges. Bringing our thoughts together in a more prayerful and melodic fashion can bring a sense of calm and peacefulness on our journey. Listening to St. Joseph Parish’s new CD, “I Sing a Maid” in a car or at home offers a spiritual respite from everyday trials.
“I Sing a Maid” is a collection of traditional and contemporary Marian hymns and is St. Joseph Parish of South Bend’s second CD release. The first CD, released in 2007, is a collection of Advent and Christmas songs and was given to parishioners as a way to enrich their prayer life and their celebration of those liturgical seasons.
Holy Cross Father John DeRiso, pastor of St. Joseph Parish, recalls the impetus for both CDs. “We did it because I recognized this great musical talent of our staff and thought it would be a great tool of evangelization. It was a creative initiative of bringing the hymns of the Church and songs of faith into the homes of our parishioners and our school families.”
Honoring Mary and showing God’s blessing are additional factors in the release of the second CD. “I am always trying to model for the schoolchildren broad ways of sharing gifts and the blessings that God has given us for the greater good. We do a marathon and a half marathon to emphasize the physical health and athletic side of our lives, and the CD is a nice way of emphasizing musical gifts. It uses voice and instruments as a way to give praise to God too,” notes Father DeRiso.
Instead of selling the CD, the parish staff wants to express gratitude to parishioners, school families and parish benefactors by giving the CD to them as a gift. “We just wanted to send them something in the mail as a surprise to say thank you for being a part of the parish and the sacrifices you make to support the mission of this place,” Father DeRiso adds.
Parish staff was involved in making “I Sing a Maid.” In addition to Father DeRiso, associate pastor Holy Cross Father Kevin Grove; Theresa Slott, director of music and liturgy; and Emmeline S. D’Agostino, assistant director of music and liturgy; were the vocals on the CD. Slott also produced and directed the CD. Lisa DeLorenzo plays percussion on the CD and is the parish director of religious education. The cover art was designed by Lesley Kirzeder, director of marketing and communications at the parish.
Other parishioners also participated in the production of the CD. Pianist Sofia Kodanashvili and flutist Renee LaReau, as well as Liam and Maddie Maher who played the violin and viola on the recording, are active members in the parish.
With the help of Gary Lavengood, who did all the recording of the Marian hymns in the church sanctuary, the CD was produced through the donations of anonymous parishioners.
Father Grove notes that singing and listening to Marian hymns offers many blessings. “It was Pope John Paul II who so frequently said that we find Jesus through Mary, because she leads us to Him. And in praying the words in these Marian hymns and especially through the music I find that it’s true. So the experience of singing and being a part of this CD is a chance for us to pray and grow closer to Christ and I hope it will be that for the people that listen to it.”
While both priests enjoy all of the Marian hymns on the CD, each has a favorite that has a special meaning in their lives. For Father Grove, “Salve Regina” holds memories of his formation in the Holy Cross order. “In our religious life in Holy Cross, that’s what we sing at night prayer to end the day.”
For Father DeRiso, “Notre Dame Our Mother,” reminds him of the connection the four vocalists on the CD share with the University. “The four singers all graduated from Notre Dame. That’s where most of us discovered our gift of singing and song.”
St. Joseph Parish would like to extend their appreciation to all in the community by offering “I Sing a Maid” CD free of charge to anyone who requests it. Those interested should contact the parish office at (574) 234-3134 or the Web site www.stjoeparish.com. Free will donations are always appreciated.
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