What to do? No one is getting back to me about helping out


#1

The short version of this story is that I started out talking to the director of the music ministry, and offered to fill in at the organ/piano and as a cantor when needed.

After several months of not hearing anything (and talking to the director more than once), I decided to call the rectory to offer to fill in. I’ve been to several masses where there is no cantor or organist (or the fill in organist was so unprepared they just stopped playing in the middle of songs). Still haven’t heard anything. I have no idea if the lady in the office even gives my information to the priest. I’ve offered to play for funerals in the summer for free, in exchange for practice time at the organ once a week.

Our priest is new this summer. Our family is new to the parish since last year. I have YEARS of experience as organist/cantor/director, and would really love to be involved here - and they have a definite need. I would talk to the priest in person after mass, but the music is always so poor that I feel like it would be awkward.

What should I do? I’m really distressed in that I feel strongly that I can fill a need at the parish, but it seems that I’m not welcome or wanted. I mean, no one has even called back or told me that they don’t want any help.


#2

Call the parish office and make an appointment with the pastor or stop by the office and see if he is in and can see you. You could also talk to the pastor after Mass; a weekday Mass may be easier.


#3

[quote="TigerKitty, post:1, topic:293429"]
What should I do? I'm really distressed in that I feel strongly that I can fill a need at the parish, but it seems that I'm not welcome or wanted. I mean, no one has even called back or told me that they don't want any help.

[/quote]

Angel's advice is sound.

But perhaps you may want to consider this circumstance as a training for humbleness. Meditate on whether you are really needed...on whether you are willing to accept that God's will be done rather than yours...after all, this was your idea...

...I simply consider that you should feel no distress, and that you should react to such things with that which St. Ignatius calls holy indifference:

a complete indifference with regard to all created things, not preferring health to sickness, riches to poverty, honor to humiliation, long life to a short one. We wish only for those conditions that will aid our pursuit of the goal for which we have been created


#4

Don't be timid. Just offer your assistance. But make sure to do it in such a way that they feel they can tell you no without hurting your feelings.


#5

Perhaps they dont to want offend the person that is playing the organ now. You have made yourself available, and I'm sure they appreciate your offer. Maybe they will come to you if and when the postion(s) become available. Be patient and enjoy your new Church :)

Bestow on me, O Lord, a genial spirit and unwearied forbearance;
a mild, loving, patient, heart;
kindly looks, pleasant cordial speech, and manners
in the exchange of daily life;
that I may give offence to none,
but as much as in lies live in charity with all men.


#6

It could be you are not called to this work at this time. Ask God to lead you to some other outlet for your talent. Perhaps you could take on a few students or mentor in the music department at a local school.


#7

I was thinking something like this could be the case.

I know there are parishes where it is customary for musicians to work without charge, some where all musicians are paid, and some where there are both volunteers and paid musicians.

If you happened to end up in the first case then you might be putting the parish in the position of having to reevaluate the status quo. Perhaps there is a limited budget for paying musicians and/or the current organists have some kind of implied order of choice to play or not for extra events like weddings and funerals. Another organist could be seen as a threat by those already there.

The new priest probably has enough other matters to deal with right now. He may technically be in charge but most new priests would rather not rock the boat when placed in a new assignment. Things might change in September when he is a bit more settled in.

You might consider volunteering to join the choir or assist with some children’s activities. Perhaps then your talents with music can be “discovered” by others and the music director will seek you out.


#8

Thank you for your insights. You have each given me something to consider. It seems the themes in the responses are "patience" and "humility".


#9

[quote="TigerKitty, post:8, topic:293429"]
Thank you for your insights. You have each given me something to consider. It seems the themes in the responses are "patience" and "humility".

[/quote]

But not fear or timidity!


#10

Parishes tend to be cliquey places.

So join a clique!

There tends to be much overlap. The same people that volunteer to stuff envelopes also attend Bible Study, or sing in the choir, or are in the Altar Society, or something. Probably everything. So get involved in one of them. Get known.


#11

[quote="SonCatcher, post:6, topic:293429"]
It could be you are not called to this work at this time. Ask God to lead you to some other outlet for your talent. Perhaps you could take on a few students or mentor in the music department at a local school.

[/quote]

What? :confused: That makes absolutely no sense.

The advice offered was sound -- make an appointment to see the pastor. If things don't change then it would be time to quietly back off for the rot would have to be deep.

Far too many Catholic parishes are "closed shops" open only to long-standing insiders. Masses go without organists, cantors, etc. etc. because the insiders simply don't want the potential competition. If a pastor is not willing to quietly fix that then I would step away.

"Not being called to this work" isn't an issue here.


#12

[quote="Richard320, post:10, topic:293429"]
Parishes tend to be cliquey places.

So join a clique!

There tends to be much overlap. The same people that volunteer to stuff envelopes also attend Bible Study, or sing in the choir, or are in the Altar Society, or something. Probably everything. So get involved in one of them. Get known.

[/quote]

So very true!

In my parish with very few exceptions, those 25-30 people virtually control all the lay ministries. They do a very effective job of keeping the ministries from growing based on their actions. Not only is it difficult to "get involved", it can be very distasteful to associate with some of these people. Don't get me wrong, they don't merely attack newcomers. There is always a quiet, political battle going on amongst themselves as well.

Until we get a strong pastor, things won't change here.


#13

[quote="Exorcist, post:11, topic:293429"]
What? :confused: That makes absolutely no sense.

The advice offered was sound -- make an appointment to see the pastor. If things don't change then it would be time to quietly back off for the rot would have to be deep.

Far too many Catholic parishes are "closed shops" open only to long-standing insiders. Masses go without organists, cantors, etc. etc. because the insiders simply don't want the potential competition. If a pastor is not willing to quietly fix that then I would step away.

"Not being called to this work" isn't an issue here.

[/quote]

You only responded to half of the observation. The operable part was intended to be: at this time.

I don't doubt that the OP has a call to use her talents in the parish sometime. I merely meant to suggest that now might not be that time. Certainly she should keep the pastor and the rest of parish staff aware of her desire to use her talent in liturgy.

The intent of my advice is that if that door is not yet open then she should seek another opportunity that can still feed into the community, even if not in liturgy.


#14

Somthing similar happened at my parish. There was this rather big deal about getting more people involved with various ministries and they had a 'ministries fair' after Mass one Sunday. And absolutely nothing happened. People indeed signed up for different ministries, but once all was said and done, the exact same people continued to be involved. It is pretty much all run by cliques. That was too bad.


#15

[quote="Beachcomber, post:14, topic:293429"]
Somthing similar happened at my parish. There was this rather big deal about getting more people involved with various ministries and they had a 'ministries fair' after Mass one Sunday. And absolutely nothing happened. People indeed signed up for different ministries, but once all was said and done, the exact same people continued to be involved. It is pretty much all run by cliques. That was too bad.

[/quote]

Of course the people who are currently serving in a ministry usually continue. However, there may still be a need. My parish had a ministry fair a little over a year ago. Some ministries indeed have new faces while the familiar ones continue. Other ministries have since seen people leave with no one taking their place. Our catechetical ministry desperately needs catechists. :eek:


#16

[quote="TigerKitty, post:1, topic:293429"]
The short version of this story is that I started out talking to the director of the music ministry, and offered to fill in at the organ/piano and as a cantor when needed.

After several months of not hearing anything (and talking to the director more than once), I decided to call the rectory to offer to fill in. I've been to several masses where there is no cantor or organist (or the fill in organist was so unprepared they just stopped playing in the middle of songs). Still haven't heard anything. I have no idea if the lady in the office even gives my information to the priest. I've offered to play for funerals in the summer for free, in exchange for practice time at the organ once a week.

Our priest is new this summer. Our family is new to the parish since last year. I have YEARS of experience as organist/cantor/director, and would really love to be involved here - and they have a definite need. I would talk to the priest in person after mass, but the music is always so poor that I feel like it would be awkward.

What should I do? I'm really distressed in that I feel strongly that I can fill a need at the parish, but it seems that I'm not welcome or wanted. I mean, no one has even called back or told me that they don't want any help.

[/quote]

Perhaps if you simply join one of the choirs and become a regular faithful member in the choir as a vocalist. Over time you will find yourself busier than you can imagine.

If you are a musician and have been around musicians most of your life, you surely realize by now that we are a touchy lot and need many prayers for our own egos.

I love the musicians in my little church and have concluded that we are diamonds in the rough with sharp edges. We need a lot of polishing to make us sparkle.

P.S. Perhaps you could work with the children.


#17

[quote="Beachcomber, post:14, topic:293429"]
Somthing similar happened at my parish. There was this rather big deal about getting more people involved with various ministries and they had a 'ministries fair' **after Mass one Sunday. **And absolutely nothing happened. People indeed signed up for different ministries, but once all was said and done, the exact same people continued to be involved. It is pretty much all run by cliques. That was too bad.

[/quote]

Same thing has happened at my parish time and time again! The only time new people get involved is when they are already de-facto part of the insider crowd, and then only a small percentage of the stick around.

I have rarely felt anger like I have when requiem Masses have no music even though music was scheduled. Either the organist or pianist couldn't make it and rather than find a replacement, the grieving family just went without. It's sordid behavior that is quietly accepted here because "it's always been that way", the pastor isn't willing to intervene and I find it sickening.


#18

My pastor lamented the fact that fewer and fewer people attend Mass. It's pretty darned sad. I was sort of surprised he even voiced that in public. He asked if I had any suggestions on how to improve Mass attendance?

My suggestion was to take a bulletin from today, from five years ago and from a dozen years ago. Highlight the names of staffers and "ministry heads" whose names show up in all three bulletins. Following a great deal of reflection and prayer, consider replacing each and every one.

I wish I had a photo of his face! He knew there was a lot of validity to my comment. Some of these people truly poison parishes...


#19

[quote="SonCatcher, post:13, topic:293429"]
You only responded to half of the observation. The operable part was intended to be: at this time.

I don't doubt that the OP has a call to use her talents in the parish sometime. I merely meant to suggest that now might not be that time. Certainly she should keep the pastor and the rest of parish staff aware of her desire to use her talent in liturgy.

The intent of my advice is that if that door is not yet open then she should seek another opportunity that can still feed into the community, even if not in liturgy.

[/quote]

I guess I wasn't clear enough. I personally don't believe that God "calls" laypeople to such ministries. Too many times I have observed people who didn't have the God-given ability to serve Mass/read/distribute communion/sing/etc. continue on because they claimed they had been "called."

I think God gives us talents and He encourages us to develop them and use them in the betterment of His Church but I honestly don't believe He calls us to specific lay ministries.


#20

[quote="Exorcist, post:19, topic:293429"]
I guess I wasn't clear enough. I personally don't believe that God "calls" laypeople to such ministries. Too many times I have observed people who didn't have the God-given ability to serve Mass/read/distribute communion/sing/etc. continue on because they claimed they had been "called."

I think God gives us talents and He encourages us to develop them and use them in the betterment of His Church but I honestly don't believe He calls us to specific lay ministries.

[/quote]

It seems we have differing ideas on what entails a "call". To me, lack of ability reflects lack of a call. Further, a calling can be better discerned by others in most cases than by the person him/herself. Someone who is tone-deaf can certainly (attempt to) sing in the congregation but is not called to be a cantor.


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