Last week I talked about change. Well, here I am about to make a very big change in my life.

Today is my official Sunday Mass as Music Director at St. Pat’s. My last 27 years have been truly blessed by being a part of this faith family and that part isn’t changing. I don’t just work here…I live in this parish and am not moving away. I will still continue to be a part of this faith family and I will also continue to serve in my volunteer role as Light of the World retreat coordinator. So I am not disappearing!

Over these last 27 years, my life has been filled with committed, talented and dedicated music volunteers. Some Contemporary choir members are still with me since the day I got here! And in fact were here and committed to service before I ever arrived. They are not only choir members to me, but have long since become my friends. I am always awed and grateful for the work they put in both at rehearsals and at home in order to make the music so wonderful at St. Pat’s. I feel their love and respect and even more I can see their relationship with Jesus growing every day, as we have become companions on the journey.

When I took over the Children’s Choir after Mrs. Ramsey left, I received a whole new pile of blessings! The children of this parish are so well behaved, so willing to work and to serve. They have been a special joy to me all these years. Learning and praying and growing in Christ, it has truly been my pleasure to serve with them, as well as to have served with the school children at school Masses. New young cantors coming forth every year, to sing God’s praise. Liturgy and music coming together in a special way as a part of their school day.

Our Resurrection Choir was formed just a few years ago, but what an amazing group of singers they are! They lend their voices and compassion to families that are grieving. They come to serve at a moment’s notice. When we can find no words, music permeates the soul to bring solace. How can I consider myself anything but blessed to be a part of their song?

How fortunate I have been to work at a Church that understands the value of music in Liturgy! How awesome that I have not had to carry the work load alone! In wisdom, the parish has provided additional support staff for me over the years and what an awesome blessing they have been to me. I won’t name names for fear of accidentally leaving someone out, but all of our music here has been blessed by the various music support staff, accompanists and cantors that have come and gone over the years, each one of them leaving their mark on our hearts with their music. Pastoral staff members and Deacons have come and gone, each one of them a blessing as well. And priests and pastors too! I have served under 4 pastors and 4 associate pastors, as well as our wonderful priests from the seminary that help us on the weekends. Whether challenging me to do more or do better or standing by my side in difficulty, or mending wounds left by others, they have all supported and been a part of my faith journey.

There have been bells and brass and drums and guitars and flutes and saxophones and oboes and clarinets and piano and organ and singers of song! The road hasn’t always been easy, but I have never been alone. Yes, of course Jesus was with me and God and the Holy Spirit driving me forward, but I also had all of you. Your love and prayers have always been with me and I have felt them. I don’t believe anyone has been given such an amazing family of faith as I have been given. How will I ever thank God enough for putting all of you in my life?!

The search for a new Music Director is not over. We want to find someone who will be a good fit. Meanwhile, Judy Zimmer, Dale Janetka and Lee Noren will be taking on extra duties to keep the music going strong. Marita Kovarik will be the new Director of our children’s Choir. Please be patient and supportive with all of them as they take on more responsibilities. Most of all, when a new Music Director is found, please don’t ask or expect them to be me. Please show them the love and patience that you have afforded me all of these years, as I grew into my position at St. Pat’s. This is a big place with lots of moving parts. Let them be themselves and have the time to find their place in this wonderful family of faith, just as I did. Pray for them. Hug them. Offer smiles and words of encouragement. And also, I ask you, in your kindness, if you will pray for me in this next chapter of my life. I have many and varied plans for my retirement which include helping out at the Light of the World National level, learning a new flute piece, and most of all taking care of my health so that I may become strong enough again to continue serving the Lord in whatever ways He has in store for me.

I have loved and supported you in the best way that I could over the years and I have truly felt your love and support , as we have all worked together to build the kingdom. So… this is not goodbye, but just “see you in Church.” Please keep on singing and I will join you in the pews in the weeks to come.

The Grace Note column will belong to the new Music Director, but if you check the bulletin a week after the next Light of the World Retreat, you will find a new column! “Shedding a little Light” by your LOTW retreat coordinator (me) is coming soon!

Have a blessed week,

Bernie