the legacy of Father James

In my last post, I wrote about a long-time, retired pastor who was near death. Father James died Friday night and these past few days have been about preparing and celebrating the funeral rites.

Leading those efforts has been Father James’s nephew, Father Tim, and Father James’s long-time music director Nancy. Father James served at Blessed Sacrament church from 1978 through his retirement in 2003. He hired Nancy early on, shortly after she graduated from university with her music degree, and they developed a true partnership and deep friendship that lasted through his retirement years.

They both loved liturgy and taught me that thoughtful, prayerful planning was the key to vibrant worship. I served on liturgy committee and in music ministry for many years and learned so much from them both. My role in the funeral planning was to write the universal prayer, which is a set of petitions which closes the liturgy of the word, for both the vigil service and the funeral mass.

Along with my daughter T, I joined the 40-voice choir, which was assembled from the choirs of Father Tim’s church, Nancy’s current church, Father James’s boyhood church where the funeral was being held, and some other former Blessed Sacrament music ministry alumni. (A number of the other choir members had also sung at Blessed Sacrament when Father James was there.) We rehearsed for two and a half hours Sunday night to be ready for the two services.

When a priest dies, he lies in state in the church, clothed in his priestly vestments. Father James had chosen white vestments with a multi-colored trim which, if I recall correctly, had been a gift from the parish for his 40th ordination anniversary. For three hours before the vigil service, Father Tim along with Father James’s nieces and other nephews received condolences from hundreds of friends and former parishioners.

We then held a vigil service with Scripture readings and prayers which focused on service. There were three homilists, one a priest-friend, who offered stories of Father James as a friend and traveling companion; one a niece, who told of growing up with with three priest-uncles, Father James and his two older brothers; and a Blessed Sacrament parishioner-friend, who told of the strong bonds of love and friendship that Father James built among us. His words reflected beautifully my own experience at Blessed Sacrament, what that parish family meant and continues to mean to me. (Unfortunately, for reasons too complex to relate here, the Blessed Sacrament community that we knew no longer exists as a parish.)

The next morning was the funeral liturgy. Nancy played prelude music on the organ, followed by two choral pieces. During the opening hymn, the many priests and deacons in attendance, all dressed in white, processed to their places, followed by the concelebrating priests, including Father Tim, and finally the bishop, who was the presider for the funeral mass.

The readings centered around Eucharist and included a gospel passage that was close to Father James’s heart and ministry, the road to Emmaus (Luke 24: 13-35).  Father Tim gave an inspiring homily, which was both intimate and encompassing. Not only had Father Tim had the example of his uncle Father James before him all his life but he had also been in residence with him at Blessed Sacrament for nine years when he was serving as chaplain at a nearby hospital, during which he assisted with weekend and special liturgies and shared homilist duties.

I was especially moved when Father Tim spoke about how special the Blessed Sacrament community was in the twenty-eight years of Father James’s pastorate, how Father James drew people together and encouraged them to develop and share their talents, how important liturgy was to him as the work of the people, and how extraordinary the partnership was between Father James and Nancy, resulting in eight choirs and a congregation that actively and joyfully participated in both spoken and sung prayer, empowering them to go out and serve others. He reminded us that it is up to those of us who were part of that community to continue to carry on the good works, friendship, love, and caring to others.

For T and me to be singing in the choir for the services was a special blessing. While Blessed Sacrament had been a modern renovated building with the music ministry in the front of the church, the church where we were gathered is one of the oldest in our area with a choir loft and a pipe organ. Being in the loft gave us a good view of the church and a bit of space from the emotions of the family. It also gave us the best advantage of the acoustics.

Some people who were unfamiliar with Nancy’s skills had expressed reservations about the choir not being amplified, but, under Nancy’s guidance, we did not need microphones to be heard and understood. They were also afraid that the congregation wouldn’t sing, but we were confident that they would – and they did. Many people were former Blessed Sacrament parishioners who were used to singing hymns and responses. Moreover, what many Catholics don’t realize is that it is not a choir or cantor that leads the singing, it is the organ. Nancy is a wonderful organist, who knows how to register the organ effectively and to pace and phrase in such a way as to lead the congregation to confidently sing the hymns and prayers.

Nancy also is the best liturgist of any Catholic church musician that I know. The hymns beautifully reflected the Scripture readings that had been chosen for the services. People commented afterward about how thoughtfully the music enhanced the service.

I know that Father James would be pleased with the vigil and funeral mass that we celebrated before laying him to rest.

With a wink, he would say it was because he had taught us how…which he did, by word and example.

As Father Tim reminded us, it is up to us to carry on, loving and serving one another, as Father James did.

May he rest in peace and may perpetual light shine upon him.

 

 

Binghamton Poetry Project – Spring 2016

On April 15, as I was preparing for dress rehearsal for the Binghamton Philharmonic concert (https://topofjcsmind.wordpress.com/2016/05/10/brahms-beethoven-and-binghamton/), the Binghamton Poetry Project was holding the Spring 2016 reading and anthology release. I was not available to read due to rehearsal, but here are my poems from the anthology. Enjoy!

*****
After May, 1982
by Joanne Corey

At baccalaureate, we
Smith women were instructed
to hire good help.
It was the only way,
we were told,
to “have it all.”

I didn’t do it,
didn’t want to “have it all” –
at least, not all at once.

I gave up paid work
for the unpaid work
of caretaking
          of a younger generation
          and an older generation
          of a school
          of a church
          of a community.

Feeling judged
for not making money
gaining promotions
being an example
of a modern
educated woman
for my daughters

Deflecting comments
about wasting my education
          my brain
wearing my Phi Beta Kappa key
for courage in challenging times

Taking years to come
to see my choice
was right for me…

How different would it have been
had our college president said,
“Here is your life,
now what will you do with it?”

*****
Tanka: Hundred-Year Flood
by Joanne Corey

The red house crouches
behind a wall of sandbags
as the water sneaks
forward like a thief to steal
all that the family owns.

*****
Vestal
by Joanne Corey

Names tend to stick.
It’s Five Corners,
even though now
it is only four.
It’s the Old Junior High
even though it hasn’t
been used as a school
for decades.
It’s Main Street
even though it isn’t
filled with shops.

Vesta is goddess
of home and hearth.
Our one-and-a-half story
cedar-shake Cape, tucked
near Choconut Creek,
is what matters,
what makes a home-
town.

Marilyn McCabe’s Glass Factory

I’m pleased to share the news that poet-friend and fellow Boiler House Poet Marilyn McCabe has a new book of poems available.  This link:   https://marilynonaroll.wordpress.com/glass-factory/  will take you to her blog post about it with videos of her reading two of the poems, link to a readers’ guide, and more! Ordering information is included in the post, so go there right now and check it out!

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M is for Marilyn (and MASS MoCA)

Fridays are Magical: First Grade Poetry Workshops

This evening, in the adult version of Binghamton Poetry Project, I wrote my first tanka. Here, I am sharing the precious post about some of the first grade poets who are loving, learning, and creating with the BPP.

Free Kindle Version of My Chicago novel to celebrate the Windy City’s 179th birthday

Melanie Villines, editor of Silver Birch Press, is making the Kindle version of her novel Windy City Sinners available FREE this weekend. Check it out!

An unexpected writing assignment

I have been trying to balance my poetry and blog writing time – not terribly successfully as various personal and family health issues intervene.

Still, there are a couple of things I need to get done by Wednesday afternoon to prepare for a couple of poetry workshops.

And, I’m going to get to them, in a few minutes.

Really. I am.

What I spent my creative time this morning doing was writing a prayer.

In the days when I served on liturgy committee, I used to do this with some frequency, but it has been over a decade since I’ve done it on a regular basis.

Yesterday, I got a call asking me to write a prayer for the dedication of Mercy House, a new home for people who are dying but aren’t able to stay in their homes. Although the idea came from a local Catholic parish and it is housed in a former Catholic church complex, Mercy House is non-sectarian, accepting any person in need of their services. Still, it is appropriate for there to be a prayer at the ribbon-cutting and open house scheduled for this Sunday.

I thought about it yesterday and last night and wrote and edited a draft this morning. I sent it out and just got a call saying that the priest for whom I had written it loves it. I’m grateful for the opportunity to use my writing to serve others.

And, now, back to poetry…

 

Share A Poem On Ink and Quill

Thank you, Jennifer, for opening this poetry sharing thread. Friends at Top of JC’s Mind, please join in by visiting Ink and Quill and adding links to your favorite poems.

Jennifer Calvert Author

quillShare a link here of your favourite poem/s, which you have written or a poem written by a fellow poet. Or both!

A poem/s which may have moved you, or are close to your heart. A poem, you thought about, long after you finished reading it.

I will repost all links.

As you are probably aware. I love poetry. So I can’t wait to read and share your links.

Please feel free to reblog this post!

I want to support my fellow bloggers, by sharing their work.

A small way of saying I appreciate you.

View original post

Poem: Crowning Glory

I’m pleased to announce that Silver Birch Press has published my poem “Crowning Glory” as part of their MY MANE MEMORIES series.

The link is here:  https://silverbirchpress.wordpress.com/2016/02/20/crowning-glory-poem-by-joanne-corey-my-mane-memories-poetry-and-prose-series/

Besides the poem, you can enjoy a photo of me taken this month in our yard, featuring my “mane”!

Enjoy!  Feel free to comment here, at Silver Birch Press, or on Facebook.

PS  I managed to copy the photo! But please read the poem at Silver Birch Press, too.

PPS  I already did a post for Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday, but this post qualifies, too, so I am adding the pingback here:  http://lindaghill.com/2016/02/19/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-feb-2016/

Accolades for Anne Harding Woodworth

I am thrilled to spread the news that Anne Harding Woodworth has been chosen as the 2015-16 COG Award winner for Poetry by judge A. Van Johnson. The poems are from her soon-to-be-published chapbook The Last Gun.  You can read more about Anne and four of her poems here:  http://www.cogzine.com/#!anne-harding-woodworth/p81np

I met Anne when the Smith College Alumnae Chorus toured in Sicily in 2011. She is such a warm and welcoming person! When I later turned to poetry, she very graciously encouraged me and gave me advice. She is one of my poetry fairy-godmothers!

Congratulations, Anne!

News from submissions

On Monday, I posted about putting in my first poetry submissions of 2016 and promised that you would be among the first to know if I got an acceptance.

I am pleased to announce that Silver Birch Press has accepted my poem “Crowning Glory” as part of their upcoming “My Mane Memories” series.

Poet-friends, submissions are open through Feb. 29. The call for submissions is here. Unlike many publishers, Silver Birch Press accepts previously published work. Short prose (up to 300 words) is also part of the series.

I will post the link here at Top of JC’s Mind when my poem appears. You’ll also be treated to a new photo featuring my silver mane!

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