Two exemplary musicians who spent years glorifying God through song and tunes will be recognized at the annual St. Cecilia Day Awards ceremony, sponsored by the Office of Liturgy’s Archdiocesan Music Committee.
This is the first year the event will consist of a luncheon for musicians across the Denver Archdiocese. It will be held at Regis University on Nov. 23. All are invited to fellowship with the musically-inclined followed by lunch, a blessing and presentation of the St. Cecilia Awards.
Honorees will be given a framed psalm, the same one recited on St. Cecilia’s feast day, Nov. 22. The saint is the patron of musicians.
This year’s honorees are J. Douglas Wree of St. Joseph Parish in Fort Collins and Marian Jugert of Holy Name Parish in Englewood.
J. Douglas Wree
“Showing enthusiasm and smiling while you sing shows people the Mass means a great deal to you—it’s not only how the music sounds but how you present it,” said 77-year-old Wree. “Even a piano sounds different if the player is smiling. That’s always been important to me.”
With his bass voice and guitar, Wree has sung in choirs and played with bands. He cantored at Baptist services before he converted to Catholicism at 21-years-old. He later became the first music minister at St. Thomas More Parish in Centennial when the church was founded. From 1969 to 1975, he provided music for the Saturday night Mass.
“I was on the board and offered to run the program until the pastor decided to do something permanent,” he said.
He moved with his wife, Barbara, to St. Joseph Parish in Fort Collins where he’s participated in music ministry since 1975. In 1985, he became the head cantor and scheduler at the parish. Wree also shared his talent at weddings and funerals and with his wife at nursing homes and prisons. One of his favorite performances was singing with a choir at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in France.
He retired as president and owner of PestRITE, a pest control company, but was called out of retirement in 2008 to serve as the parish’s full-time volunteer music director. But in 2011, a battle with leukemia left him nearly deaf.
Wree said he’s since recovered some hearing, but has concluded his music career.
“Music gives a heart and soul to the liturgy and makes it come alive,” Wree said. “It has affected my faith enormously.”
Marian Jugert of Holy Name Parish in Englewood spent nearly 70 years sharing her musical talent with the Church.
As a child at Holy Rosary Parish in Denver, a Dominican nun taught her to play the organ. The pastor allowed her to practice every day in the church. Her practice paid off when she began to play at Masses regularly by the time she was in the eighth grade. She later performed at Cure d’Ars Parish in Denver for eight years before she was hired as the organist at All Saints Parish in Denver.
Jugert returned to Holy Name and served as the organist since 1978.
Due to health conditions, she retired from music ministry and from work in the Denver Public School system.
Her love for music continues as seen in her recent excitement over Holy Name Parish’s announcement of its new organ. She said, “Oh, I would love to get my hands on that keyboard.”
Because of her health, Jugert was presented the St. Cecilia award Nov. 13. John Miller, the archdiocese’s associate director of the Office of Liturgy, said she was very appreciative of the award and never imagined she would win it.
St. Cecilia Day
Spend a day with fellow musicians and participate in a roundtable discussion, music rehearsal and lunch. There will be a blessing and presentation of the St. Cecilia Awards.
When: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Nov. 23
Where: St. John Francis Regis Chapel, 3333 Regis Blvd., Denver
Details: call 303-715-3156 or email firstname.lastname@example.org