Monday, March 21, 2005


Vision Statement for St. Therese

Originally written as a submission to the building committees on what our new building should stand for, what it could be used for, and how we should organize ourselves concerning it.


St. Therese of Carmel Vision Statement

The lifecycle of a project must start with a vision.
Without it, even the best logistics, completely
adequate funding, an army of skilled workers, and
generous amounts of time will not be sufficient to
produce something of quality.

A vision allows a group to reach consensus on where
they want to be at some future time. A vision is
defined by people that are thinking in terms larger
than themselves and in ways that may be very
challenging to their own personal values or comfort.

My vision of St. Therese is that of a vibrant, active,
involved community center of worship, culture,
teaching, and life. Sharing my faith with others makes
it real, makes it worth it, and increases it. Our
church is shelter in an emergency, a place of
teaching, a place of contemplation, a place of
dedication, ceremony, ritual, sound, silence, and
celebration. Our church includes all and should not
under any circumstances limit involvement or voice.

This is what I support my vision of St. Therese upon.
These numbered paragraphs below are from chapter six
of the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy,
Sacrosanctum Concilium, Solemnly promulgated by His
Holiness Pope Paul VI on December 4th, 1963. It's a
document that has proven invaluable to me on many
occasions. Other church documents and writings have
similar definitions, goals, guidelines and
encouragements, but this is the one I'm most familiar
with, so I will use it as my primary source.

112. The musical tradition of the universal Church is
a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than
that of any other art. The main reason for this
pre-eminence is that, as sacred song united to the
words, it forms a necessary or integral part of the
solemn liturgy.

The idea of music being necessary, being integral to
worship, is vital. Its value cannot be overstated. The
decision on what to spend our money on must be guided
by these and other liturgical and practical

113. Liturgical worship is given a more noble form
when the divine offices are celebrated solemnly in
song, with the assistance of sacred ministers and the
active participation of the people.

To me, this clearly establishes the enhancement to
worship that music endows our rituals with. It can
feel scary to sing when you have no confidence. It can
be intimidating. You may not like the style. You may
not like the selection. In the end, though, music is
the only universal language. We must honor this.

114. The treasure of sacred music is to be preserved
and fostered with great care. Choirs must be
diligently promoted, especially in cathedral churches;
but bishops and other pastors of souls must be at
pains to ensure that, whenever the sacred action is to
be celebrated with song, the whole body of the
faithful may be able to contribute that active
participation which is rightly theirs, as laid down in
Art. 28 and 30.

Have we preserved and fostered with great care our
treasure of sacred music at St. Therese? Have we truly
diligently promoted our choir? Our congregational
singing? My vision of St. Therese is one of high
expectations, open minds, and a celebration of both
the art and the science of music for all parishioners
at all levels.

I’m not speaking idly or as a wishful thinker. I’m a
member of the choir, maintain the choir web page, and
prepare the audio of our mass for download or
subscription on the internet. There are so many other
things that we will be able to do, in the course of
time, from community emergency preparation to teaching
to sacred music festivals to retreats to hosting
religious seminars... The list goes on and on.

The vision I have of our church is one that continues
our active, positive, optimistic, industrious, loving,
good-natured community spirit, but amplifies and
spreads it as a irrepressible force for good in a
world that is too often ill with evil and sick with
despair, cynicism, violence, and hate.

In order to achieve this vision, we need to prepare.
Preparation costs money. Money can always be spent on
something else. However, looking at the architecture
that has been produced to date, I’m seeing something
quite special. Let’s do what we can to enable the
future and not live in the past or let ourselves feel
shackled by the present.

115. Great importance is to be attached to the
teaching and practice of music in seminaries, in the
novitiates and houses of study of religious of both
sexes, and also in other Catholic institutions and
schools. To impart this instruction, teachers are to
be carefully trained and put in charge of the teaching
of sacred music. It is desirable also to found higher
institutes of sacred music whenever this can be done.
Composers and singers, especially boys, must also be
given a genuine liturgical training.

120. In the Latin Church the pipe organ is to be held
in high esteem, for it is the traditional musical
instrument which adds a wonderful splendor to the
Church's ceremonies and powerfully lifts up man's mind
to God and to higher things.

But other instruments also may be admitted for use in
divine worship, with the knowledge and consent of the
competent territorial authority, as laid down in Art.
22, 52, 37, and 40. This may be done, however, only on
condition that the instruments are suitable, or can be
made suitable, for sacred use, accord with the dignity
of the temple, and truly contribute to the edification
of the faithful.

121. Composers, filled with the Christian spirit,
should feel that their vocation is to cultivate sacred
music and increase its store of treasures.
Let them produce compositions which have the qualities
proper to genuine sacred music, not confining
themselves to works which can be sung only by large
choirs, but providing also for the needs of small
choirs and for the active participation of the entire
assembly of the faithful.

What does teaching and practice mean? Let’s stretch
ourselves beyond what we currently do. What is
stopping us from founding a “higher institution of
sacred music”? What is stopping us from contributing
sacred music to our faith?

Visions are dreams distilled by pragmatism. We as a
community are capable of this. Let’s capitalize on our
talent, our blessings and let’s commit to a vision
that includes a diversity of music, worship styles,
and the widest possible inclusion of liturgy.

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