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Church Musicians’ Guild Festival Mass to be a (parish) family affair


“The one who sings, prays twice.”

That remark is attributed to St. Augustine, though historians suggest he didn’t really say it. What is hard fact, is the impact of the Church Musicians’ Guild of Buffalo on liturgical song and performance throughout the diocese for more than 75 years.

Members of the Church Musicians’ Guild of Buffalo perform during their 75th Anniversary Mass Sept. 30, at Fourteen Holy Helpers Church in West Seneca. Guild members will unite again for their annual Festival Mass Thursday, June 29 at 7 p.m., at SS. Peter & Paul Church in Williamsville.” (Photo by Michael Mroziak)

The guild will hold its annual Festival Mass Thursday, June 29 at 7 p.m., inside SS. Peter & Paul Church in Williamsville.

“Every year we have our Festival Mass sometime in June to end our year,” said Gail Shepherd, music director at the church. “They asked me if we could have it at SS. Peter & Paul this year. And I said, sure, that would be fine, and why don’t we have it on June 29, which is the feast of SS. Peter and Paul.”

Musicians and vocalists from Parish Family #16 will participate in the Mass. In addition to Thursday evening’s host, the parish family includes St. Leo the Great in Amherst, Infant of Prague and St. Aloysius Gonzaga in Cheektowaga, St. Benedict in Eggertsville, and Christ the King in Snyder.

As the Diocese of Buffalo continues to move ahead with its Road to Renewal, which is utilizing the parish family model, Shepherd and her peers recognize the example they’ll be setting as they combine their talents for the Festival Mass.

“This was a perfect place to showcase that kind of collaboration for one ministry, and hopefully that that could sort of inspire all the other ministries to come together,” she said. “That’s already beginning to happen within our family. It’s actually it’s pretty exciting.”

The guild was formed originally as the Catholic Choirmasters Guild by Cecelia Roy Kenney. An award named in her memory will be presented during the Mass, as will a scholarship to a young music student.

The guild was first formed as an entity to provide an education in liturgical music. Shepherd says its role has evolved as the Catholic Church did, embracing the use of musical instruments including the guitar. As she sees it, the guild will play an important role in the further changes coming to the Catholic community in Western New York.

“As we have evolved more now, especially with all of these changes happening in the diocese, that will again be very important in helping musicians from families come together, just as we’re going to do on Thursday,” Shepherd said. “That’s the beginning of, I think, a new role of the guild for the diocese.”

Listen to Michael Mroziak reporting.


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