Browsing The Northern Cross

Crosby parish to offer sacred music workshop in October

By Deacon Kyle Eller
The Northern Cross

St. Joseph Church in Crosby is hosting a four-day sacred music workshop with national presenters in October, and the parish’s pastor wants everyone, whether they’re musicians or not, to know they’re invited.

“You should really come,” said Father Elias Gieske. “It’s a great opportunity, and you don’t have this opportunity every day.”

Held Oct. 24-27, the workshop will include lectures and practices for both adults and children, as well as a number of liturgies with sacred music, including a Mass with Bishop Paul Sirba, and meals.

The liturgies, of course, are free and open to anyone. For the other elements, registration is required, and there is a cost.

National and local speakers

There are three presenters for the workshops and lectures: Scott Turkington, Mary Ann Carr-Wilson, and Father Joel Hastings.

Turkington is a native of Minneapolis who has studied at the University of Minnesota, the Boston Conservatory of Music, and the Catholic University of America. He currently serves as organist and choirmaster for Holy Family Church in St. Louis Park and has served in similar capacities at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Charleston, South Carolina, and the Basilica of St. John the Evangelist in Stamford, Connecticut. He has also worked at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., and at parishes and schools in Massachusetts.

He also has many performance credits as an organist, and his choir in 1994 performed for Pope St. John Paul II at St. Peter’s in Rome. He has lectured on sacred music in many dioceses and, until his retirement last year, gave classes and seminars and directed choirs for the Church Music Association of America.

Carr-Wilson was educated at San Diego State University and is also known as a performer, choir director, and educator, especially working with young people. She directs the San Diego Catholic Youth Choir and created a Chant Camp that receives national and international requests. She serves on the faculty of the Church Music Association of America has offered training and workshops for teachers, choir directors, adults, seminarians, cantors, college students, and more. She is on the staff of the Benedict XVI Institute, an organization fostering sacred music and divine worship.

Father Hastings is the director of liturgy for the Diocese of Duluth and pastor of St. Benedict Church in Duluth. He studied at the Pontifical North American College in Rome and had his liturgical training at the Liturgical Institute in Mundelein, Illinois. In his parish, he has celebrated the Latin Mass both in the ordinary and extraordinary forms of the rite.

The topics covered will include what participation in the liturgy means; the nature of sacred music, including chant and polyphony; the role and importance of children’s participation in the liturgy; and more. There will also be rehearsals and celebrations of the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours.

Exposing people to the music

Father Gieske said he has been thinking about such an event for a while, spurred by a “desire to help people to understanding the music of the church, of the Mass, as it’s been sung and lived these many centuries.”

He said that like many people, he didn’t have a lot of exposure to traditional sacred music growing up. That changed in seminary.

“I’ve always just kind of grown up with the missalettes with just hymns and newer hymns,” he said. While those contain some nice things, he added, there is something else the church proposes and offers.

“Many people have never been exposed to it,” he said, or haven’t understood it.

Remedying that is the main point of the event.

He also said he recognizes the need to be “careful and sensitive” when handling it, as sometimes people have strong feelings about music in the liturgy.

“I definitely have my preferences, but I’m not trying to undermine what other people enjoy or what other people experience in their worship,” he said.

“We’re not trying to enforce something. It’s more exposure, I would say,” he added.

But he said there is also a growing hunger for sacred music, especially among young people who are strong in their faith, so it’s important to get a sense of its possibilities.


Father Gieske said he expects there will be good participation from his own parish, and he hopes to draw others from around the area or elsewhere in the diocese. He said people from outside the diocese have also signed up.

“It we got 100, I would be happy,” he said. “If we were less than 30, I’d be a little disappointed.”

And if it goes well, he would consider doing it again next year.

Full details about the workshop as well as online registration are available on the parish’s website at workshop. The cost for the workshop is $25 adults, $20 children, and $50 for a family.

The parish requests registration in advance to assist with planning for meals and other logistics.