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USCCB divine worship official takes post with pastoral musicians’ group

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Msgr. Richard B. Hilgartner, pictured in a 2008 file photo, has been named the new president of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians. Msgr. Hilgartner is the outgoing executive director of U.S. bishops' divine worship office and is a priest of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) (June 24, 2014) See HILGARTNER June 24, 2014.
Msgr. Richard B. Hilgartner, pictured in a 2008 file photo, has been named the new president of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians. Msgr. Hilgartner is the outgoing executive director of U.S. bishops' divine worship office and is a priest of the Archdiocese of Baltimore. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

By Catholic News Service 

SILVER SPRING, Md. — Msgr. Richard Hilgartner, outgoing executive director of the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat of Divine Worship, has been named the new president of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, based in the Washington suburb of Silver Spring.

Msgr. Hilgartner will assume his new role Sept. 1. His service to the U.S. bishops concludes at the end of June.

In addition to his new position with the pastoral musicians’ organization, Msgr. Hilgartner will serve as temporary administrator of St. Joseph Parish in Hagerstown, in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, which is his home archdiocese.

During his seven years with the secretariat, Msgr. Hilgartner contributed significantly to the implementation of the new translation of the Roman Missal, translation of additional liturgical texts, prayer and worship at the bishops’ twice-yearly assemblies, “and to so many other initiatives essential (to) this area of the church’s life and ministry,” said a June 23 message by Msgr. Ronny Jenkins, general secretary of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Msgr. Hilgartner was hired by the USCCB in 2007 as associate director of the secretariat, advancing to the role of executive director in 2011.

The National Association of Pastoral Musicians is a membership organization for Catholic liturgical musicians. Msgr. Hilgartner assumes a post that has been vacant for about a year since his predecessor, J. Michael McMahon, left after 12 years in the role. Father Virgil Funk, a retired priest of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, was the group’s first president for 25 years, from its founding in 1976 to 2001.

Ordained to the priesthood in 1995, Msgr. Hilgartner is himself a musician — a trained singer and former brass player who through high school and college served in various musical ensembles in both parish and in campus settings.

Following his ordination, he served in two parishes in the Baltimore Archdiocese, then began studies in Rome at the Pontifical Athenaeum Sant’Anselmo in 2003, earning a licentiate in sacred theology, later acquiring a specialization in sacramental theology. Upon his return to Baltimore, then-Father Hilgartner was a chaplain and director of campus ministry and as an adjunct faculty member at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland, until his appointment to the USCCB’s divine worship office.

In a June 11 news release announcing his hiring as president, Msgr. Hilgartner noted the U.S. church’s growing diversity, “not only in terms of culture and language but also in regard to models of church and models of worship.”

The future of the pastoral musicians’ organization, he added, “will depend on its ability to serve the church in these contexts and to form, encourage and support the next generation of pastoral musicians in their commitment to serve the church and the liturgy.”

Msgr. Hilgartner will be introduced at the association’s July 14-17 convention in St. Louis.

Story posted June 24, 2014.

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