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Mark C. N. Sullivan is an editor at a Massachusetts university. He is married and the father of three children. Email
Wednesday, February 12, 2003 Preaching for the choir
In the matter of Cantores in Ecclesia and its departure from St. Patrick's Church in Portland, Ore., after a row between the music director and the new pastor, a correspondent writes in the choir's defense:
It is astounding that so many of you are so quick to assume and believe the "whole story" as to why Cantores in Ecclesia left St. Patrick's in Portland, Oregon. Those of you who suspect there is more to what was stated/reflected in the article in the Oregonian are indeed correct. The increasing problems at the parish have and continue to run much deeper than one could imagine. It would obviously be inappropriate to go into detail in such a forum as this. In any case, just to clarify, the choir NEVER excluded the congregation from singing parts of the mass and thereby actively taking part (even if "active participation" is to be defined so narrowly). The Credo, the Pater Noster, numerous responses throughout the liturgy, and closing hymns were always sung by the people, and rather full voiced if I may add. The plainsong ordinaries of the mass were also often sung with or antiphonally with the congregation.
In addition, the pastor actually singlehandedly cancelled the "Latin mass" the last day the choir sang, much to the shock and dismay of the many parishioners who had been attending the Latin mass on Sat. night for years. THIS ANNOUNCEMENT WAS COMPLETELY UNEXPECTED. He then reinstated it about a month later, again an unforeseen action, this time with a cantor from OCP up in front to "lead". It's all very strange - the mish-mash of it all, and the inconsistency of the pastor's decisions, comments and actions.
To conclude, I would just like to say that as far as I have lived, never have I EVER encountered a person with more integrity, faith, selflessness, and love for the Catholic Liturgy as Dean Applegate. Everything he does in the name of the choir, even all the touring the choir has done, has always been to expose as many people to the beauty and treasury we as Catholics have in Gregorian Chant. This, as he is quoted in the Oregonian article, is and has been the "raison d'etre" of Cantores. For this, he has dedicated his life, his work. Believe it or not, HE has never been paid a single cent for all his years at St. Patrick's, directing the choir. He had a vision 18 yrs ago, and was able to build up a community that flourished and centered around worshipping through the Latin Mass on Saturday nights. To say that he did not care for the parish is preposterous. He has been an inspiration to me, and I know has impacted the spirituality of hundreds of people both through his music and his person. I highly suggest to you all to think twice before making ANY judgements on him or his decision to leave St. Patrick..