Archdiocese’s music ministry reaches out to rural areas

Michael Emmerich wants to hear from and help music ministers in parishes and schools across the archdiocese – from Stuart to Springfield, Newcastle to Central City.
And he’s packing his schedule to make it happen.
Hired in January to the new position of associate director of music ministry and rural music ministry in the archdiocese’s Saint Cecilia Institute for Sacred Liturgy, Music and the Arts, Emmerich has spent time with musicians from dozens of parishes.
That includes a Jan. 23 “meet and greet” for Omaha-area musicians at Christ the King Parish in Omaha and a Feb. 26 gathering in Norfolk that drew about 25 music ministers from parishes such as St. Stanislaus in Duncan, St. Mary in Leigh, St. Joseph in Platte Center and Holy Trinity in Hartington.
On April 17, Emmerich will gather with musicians at St. Boniface Parish in Elgin for an evening of prayer and fellowship and a multimedia presentation on psalmody.
His position might be unique in the United States, said Marie Rubis Bauer, director of music at the institute and organist at St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha.
Hearing about the archdiocese’s effort, people around the country have contacted her, Rubis Bauer said, to say “what a great idea.”
The effort also ties into the archdiocese’s pastoral vision of creating “One church: encountering Jesus, equipping disciples and living mercy,” she said.
“It’s part of this, definitely,” she said. “But it’s part of the church’s life; it’s part of the church’s life to sing our worship together.”
Mary Campbell, liturgist and music ministry leader at St. Peter Parish in Stanton, said she attended the Norfolk gathering, and the archdiocese’s effort is appreciated.
“It was nice to get all the musicians in the area together. Michael is very personable, willing to reach out to everybody,” she said. 
Emmerich, who grew up in Lincoln and most recently was the associate organist at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Houston, said he is praying with, listening to and seeking ways to assist musicians. That could include techniques for leading congregations in song, using a microphone, improving enunciation, or even composing announcements at Mass, he said.
“It’s valuable for me to hear where people are,” he said. “It really takes everyone – clergy and laity, the specialist musician and the person in the pew. But when we work with a unified vision, cooperating with the Holy Spirit and the beautiful wisdom of the church, we can make sung prayer something powerful.”
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