Catholic youths to bring joy of music

Catholic youths on a concert tour will share their musical talents with Denverites next week during a series of performances featuring “mountain music.”

Some 40 performers on The Young Catholic Musicians organization based in St. Louis will give three concerts starting June 3. The small orchestra and choir will perform at 1:30 p.m. June 3 at the Mullen Home for the Aged, noon June 5 at the state Capitol downtown, and 10 a.m. June 6 at the Gardens of St. Elizabeth.

“I’m really excited,” said youth president Bobby Donnelly, 17. “It’s a really fun way for us to give back to the community.”

Their Denver concert will include music with mountain themes, including Diana Ross’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High” and Alabama’s “Mountain Music.”

The group performs liturgical music at Masses across Missouri throughout the year and goes on a Christmas and summer tour to perform patriotic and popular music from New York to Florida to Texas. This their 40th year of performing.

“I think it’s a unique group,” said music director Father Bruce Forman. “I don’t know any other group in the country that is leading Mass with an orchestra and choir.”

He said the group is focused on youth ministry first and ministering to others second.

“These are young people who are dedicating time and talents to benefit us,” he said.

The group is made of youths ages 10 to 17 who participate in the orchestra or choir. The orchestra includes violins, cellos, flutes, trumpets, percussion instruments, drums and an electric guitar.

The group is dedicated to teaching the youth leadership skills including persistence, dedication, punctuality and more, he said. Many youth members have gone on to choose careers or vocations related to music.

“They can choose different life tracks and use the gifts God gave them and use it in his service,” Father Forman said.

Donnelly said he looks forward to bringing some joy to people in Denver. Often those who listen to the concert calling it “moving” and “joyful,” he said.

The Young Catholic Musicians Denver schedule

1:30 p.m. June 3 at the Mullen Home for the Aged, 3629 W. 29th Ave., Denver
Noon June 5 at the state Capitol, 200 E. Colfax Ave., Denver
10 a.m. June 6 at the Gardens of St. Elizabeth, 2835 W. 32nd Ave., Denver

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COMING UP: Collegiality and eucharistic integrity

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The concept of the “collegiality” of bishops has been sharply contested since the Second Vatican Council debated it in 1962, 1963, and 1964. That discussion was sufficiently contentious that a personal intervention from Pope Paul VI was required to incorporate the concept of episcopal collegiality within the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church in such a way that the pope’s primacy and universal jurisdiction were safeguarded. The debate about collegiality has continued ever since. Now, however, it’s focused more on what kind of collegiality exists within national conferences of bishops. Is it an “affective collegiality” of mutual support and encouragement? Or is episcopal collegiality within bishops’ conferences “effective,” such that a conference has real teaching and legislative authority?  

Whether collegiality is “affective,” “effective,” or some combination of the two, it ought to be clear what truly “collegial” behavior isn’t.   

It isn’t individual bishops attempting end-runs around their national conference, appealing for Roman interventions that would forestall debates that their brother bishops wish to engage. It isn’t bishops trying to browbeat the conference chairman into changing an agenda to suit the tastes of a distinct minority — and misleading their brother bishops as to what they’re about when soliciting support for such a gambit. And it isn’t trying to filibuster a conference meeting so that no action is possible on an agenda item that the great majority of bishops wish to consider and act upon. 

If any of those three maneuvers qualifies as collegial, then “collegiality” has no more meaning than the claim that my poor Baltimore Orioles have a great starting rotation. 

For years now — and by “years,” I mean long before the idea of a “President Biden” entered the stream of national consciousness — the bishops of the United States have been concerned that ours is becoming less of a eucharistic Church than Vatican II called us to be when it taught that the Eucharist is the “source and summit” of the Church’s life. Pope St. John Paul II reaffirmed that conciliar summons when, in his final encyclical, he taught that “the Church draws her life from the Eucharist,” which “recapitulates the heart and mystery of the Church.” Yet all around us we see declining Sunday Mass attendance: a sadness that preceded the pandemic but has been further exacerbated by it.  Moreover, surveys suggest that too many Catholics think of Sunday Mass as essentially a social occasion, rather than an encounter with the living God in which Christ is offered to the Father and is given back to his people in holy communion — a communion in and through the body and blood, soul and divinity of Christ, received under the forms of bread and wine.

If the Church lives from the Eucharist and yet the people of the Church don’t participate in the Eucharist as often as they should, or don’t understand what they’re celebrating and receiving when they do, then the Church suffers from a serious eucharistic deficit. Those ordained to leadership in the Church are obliged to do something about that. 

That is why the U.S. bishops have been determined for some time to undertake a comprehensive program of eucharistic education throughout the Church. For the great majority of bishops, that determination has been intensified by the fact that our eucharistic deficit is being compounded by the eucharistic incoherence of public officials who, rejecting authoritative Catholic teaching based on both revelation and reason, nonetheless present themselves for holy communion as if they were in full communion with the Church. The longstanding episcopal failure to address this incoherence exacerbates the eucharistic deficit in American Catholicism by implying that the Church really doesn’t mean what it teaches about the sacred nature of the Eucharist. 

Those suggesting that this is all about “politics” are either ill-informed or deliberately misleading the Church and the gullible parts of the media. Concern for the eucharistic integrity of the Church includes, but goes much deeper than, concerns about the eucharistic incoherence of Catholic public officials who act as if the Church’s settled convictions on the life issues and on worthiness to receive holy communion don’t exist. That is why the U.S. bishops are forging ahead with developing a teaching document that will clarify for the whole Church why we are a Eucharistic community, what the Eucharist truly is, what reception of the Eucharist means, and why everyone in the Church should examine conscience before receiving Christ in the sacrament. 

The wheels of collegiality may grind slowly. In this case, however, they are grinding truly, and for the sake of the Gospel.

George Weigel is an independent columnist whose weekly column is syndicated by the Archdiocese of Denver. The opinions and viewpoints expressed by Mr. Weigel therein are his alone and do not necessarily reflect those of the Archdiocese of Denver or the bishops of Denver.