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Laudate prepares students for music ministry

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

By Carmen M. Hubbard

DAYTON DEANERY — For Carmen Austing, being a young Christian musician and an active member of her parish makes her somewhat unique compared to others in her circle of friends. But when she gathers with fellow musicians and singers from throughout the archdiocese, she’s glad to know there are other teenagers like her.

Austing, 17, was among the 60 students in the eighth through 12th grades who participated in the fifth annual Laudate (from the Latin for “praise”) June 15-18 at the Bergamo Retreat Center in Dayton. The event was co-sponsored by the archdiocesan Worship Office and the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.

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Robert Jones, director of the University Chorale at the University of Dayton, served as choir director during choir practice at Laudate. (Courtesy photo)

This year’s theme was “Christ is Present in the Eucharist,” noted Karen Kane, director of the Worship Office.

“Every time I come here I really like it. This brings everybody together,” said Austing, who is a member St. James of the Valley Parish in Wyoming and has attended Laudate for the past four years. “This makes you feel fired up to go back and participate in church.”

Laudate is an intensive music experience for youth involved in or seeking to become involved as music ministers in Catholic parishes or campus ministries. This year’s co-chairmen for Laudate were Jeremy Helmes, campus minister at the University of Dayton who has served as director of liturgy and music for various parishes within the archdiocese, and Brian Bisig, director of music and worship at St. Michael Church in Sharonville.

Students received one-on-one and group vocal and instrumental instruction from area parish musicians and vocal trainers. Robert Jones, director of the University Chorale at the University of Dayton, offered his expertise to the program this year.

“Some students have interest in music ministry or sing as the cantor. Many play at Mass and during their school’s liturgy,” said Bob Wurzelbacher, associate director of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry. “Students at Laudate hone skills and learn more about the liturgy and what it means to be a pastoral musician in the Catholic Church.”

Students learned the principles of the liturgy and music ministry. They participated in a variety of forms of liturgical prayer, spoke with local liturgical experts and had time for social activities such as a talent show and a dance. Each day began and ended with prayer. The retreat concluded with closing vespers held at Queen of the Apostles Chapel next door to the retreat center. Parents and other family members were encouraged to attend.

Kane and Wurzelbacher explained that Laudate helps students to understand and to know when it’s appropriate to play certain instruments, such as the drums, during Mass.

“There are certain pieces of music when drums wouldn’t be appropriate,” Kane said.

Wurzelbacher said he hopes student musicians developed a better appreciation for the different aspects of liturgical music as result of participating in Laudate.

Several students originally heard about Laudate from their parish music ministers and have returned to learn more music and reunite with friends.

“It’s really nice to see people we haven’t seen in a year,” said Samm Farling, 17. “We pick up where we left off.”

She added that participating in the Laudate retreat has helped build confidence when she returns to her parish. Farling has attended Laudate for the past three years and is a member of St. John the Baptist in Tipp City.

“This brings everyone together,” said Tyler Hunt, 17, a member of St. Columban Parish in Loveland.

Jane Bailey, 16, attended Laudate for the first time at the suggestion of her music minister at St. Michael Parish in Ft. Loramie.

“I heard it was a lot of fun, and I wanted to come,” she said.

Luke Bollheimer, 17, also a member of St. Michael, said having attended Laudate, he’s“not scared to sing loud in church.”

Maria Russo, 20, is a former Laudate participant who is now an adult staffer in training for the retreat. She said she enjoys working with students and reminisces about the activities she participated in at Laudate.

“This is one of those times when students learn music and are living out their faith through Laudate,” she said.

Wurzelbacher said their goal for students who attend Laudate is to be able to apply what they learned about their faith in their daily lives.

“This is about how to use your God-given talents and improve your prayer life in a conducive environment,” he said.

In addition to being an opportunity for young people to learn more about liturgical music, Kane said Laudate is also a retreat where they can share their faith with one another.

“This is a time when young people can share and talk about their faith in God. They can share without being geeky and can freely profess their faith to be Catholic and feel good about it,” Kane said.

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