October 12, 2023
Dear Parishioners and Friends of St. John’s,
In my seminary classes, I remember learning about the Church’s desire to have parishioners experience full active conscious participation in the Mass. Our goal is to do that here at SJB and help our parishioners encounter the living God. As we have shifted to having the Ignite group once a month on Sunday morning, I have received multigenerational positive feedback regarding the music. They often share that they really felt moved by music at Mass or that it spoke to them. One parishioner shared at our first Sunday morning Mass with the Ignite group, “Mass was absolutely on fire for me today. The music was outstanding of course, but it was the whole Mass. Unreal Eucharistic experience for me today coupled with prayer and music that was placed there by God based upon what I was thinking and praying about. Crazy. Praise God. It was awesome.”
There is certainly a grace-filled affective movement happening within that shift. I have been personally encouraged by the positive feedback as I know this is a sensitive topic. However, I want to serve our parish well and I believe this decision will strengthen and help our parish continue to grow and draw more people in relationship with Christ through the Sacraments. We plan to continue to have the Ignite Group lead music at both Sunday morning Masses once a month. At the same time, I want to address some concerns that I have heard from parishioners.
- We do have a tremendous organist in Lee Treml and I am grateful for his ministry at SJB. We will continue to prioritize the organ at Masses 3 to 4 weekends a month. We also are working to make music accessible, and we want to continue to develop this area as we support our parishioners’ full active conscious participation in the Mass.
- The Ignite group is not taking away from our previously scheduled choir, schola or contemporary group Masses. We currently do not have a children’s choir due to a lack of staffing. In addition to Ignite covering those weekends, they will also sing at the 8:30 am Mass which in the past has been covered by a cantor and organ.
- The Ignite group does use a secondary sound system due to the limitations of our current sound system. With the new sound system that we hope to install when we complete the church upgrades, the secondary sound system will no longer be necessary.
- We have worked with Ignite to make sure the music is accessible and liturgically appropriate as well. We have included the entrance antiphons and communion antiphons to maintain the traditional elements. We will continue to chant the Gospel Dialogue and Doxology as well as other Mass parts at times.
- The Mass is about Christ, not the music or homily. While the music and homily are important, the main focus is to be there for Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. Many people have various musical preferences, and some have told me they try to avoid certain music groups, which include contemporary group, organ music as well as Ignite. My hope is that we can all agree that we are here for Jesus and remain drawn by Him. We have a vibrant welcoming community and we will continue to develop that with the hope and intention to draw people into Holy Communion with Christ. I appreciate your patience and understanding as I work in collaboration with parish leaders, both staff and parishioners, to build up Christ’s kingdom.
- We currently do have two parishioners (pictured) who play with the Ignite group and we would be happy to include more if you have interest. Please reach out to Abe Gross if you would like to be a part of their group.
The Archbishop himself has had the Ignite group lead music at large Archdiocesan Masses and gatherings. He sees the power of this style music played in a contemplative way for the Mass as significant. That has given me confidence in this shift at SJB, that the Holy Spirit continues to guide as we further Christ’s kingdom in New Brighton and beyond!
As the Father loves me, so I also love you!
Father Paul Shovelain