More than a year ago, the Diocese’s Hispanic Apostolate began planning for a liturgical conference aimed at musicians and liturgical ministers who serve in Spanish liturgical celebrations.
The Asociación de Músicos Pastorales Hispanos (Association of Hispanic Pastoral Musicians) offers a conference every two years, visiting a different diocese each time to offer days of professional development for choir members, liturgy coordinators, lectors and others who minister in the Church to the Spanish-speaking community.
The August 2020 conference was set to take place in Diocese of Harrisburg at the invitation of the Hispanic Apostolate, and Bishop Ronald Gainer.
Then the pandemic hit.
Adapting in the end-stages of planning for an in-person conference, leaders and facilitators from AMPHE and the Diocese transformed the three-day offering into a virtual event via Facebook Live, Vimeo and Zoom.
What followed was an outreach to a larger contingent of participants – nearly 500 registrants – from North America.
It was an unanticipated but welcome bonus.
“I continue to receive messages from participants expressing their gratitude for offering this conference,” said Jaclyn Curran, Diocesan Coordinator of Multicultural Ministries, who served as facilitator for the event. “This has rekindled their vocation as pastoral musicians and they were eager to continue serving their respective dioceses.”
“Bishop has supported the conference since day one and he was the first to mention to me the option to offer it virtually,” she said. “When COVID-19 forced us to rework everything at the last minute and offer it virtually, it proved to be a blessing as it allowed from people from all over the United States, Puerto Rico and Mexico to be part of it.”
The conference began Aug. 27 with an evening of prayer and music for young people. Bishop Gainer offered welcoming remarks and the Opening Prayer, and Archbishop Nelson Perez of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia addressed participants. Musical performances featured Dúo Sursum Corda and the Angeles de Padre Pio youth group from Corpus Christi Parish in Chambersburg.
Catholic composers from Oregon Catholic Press/GIA Publications offered selections during the conference, which included a keynote presentation and break-out sessions Aug. 28 and 29. Topics included how to celebrate multicultural liturgies, how to work with pastoral musicians that have migrated from Latin America, Hospitality Ministry, Lector Ministry, techniques and suggestions for cantors, techniques and suggestions for guitarists, and many more.
“The Asociación I worked with was very supporting in my request to go beyond liturgical music,” Curran said of AMPHE. “They were open to including workshops for lectors, ushers and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion; in this way, this was more than a pastoral musicians’ workshop and because a liturgical workshop.”
Curran she plans to take the professional development, ideas and information offered at the conference and mold it into continued formation for Spanish-speaking pastoral musicians in the Diocese.
“I am partnering with some of our parishioners to formulate a strategy to go beyond this weekend conference and offer additional formation to our pastoral musicians at least twice a year. The goal is to offer a follow-up formation session later this year,” she noted.
“I hope that they have an understanding of the importance of supporting and nurturing local talent, and encouraging the faithful to offer their gifts to the Church,” she said.
By Jen Reed, The Catholic Witness