Every Sunday night, students in the Music Ministry play religious songs together. The group provides music for Sunday evening mass in the Sancta Alberta Chapel.
“The Music Ministry provides music for Sunday evening mass at 7 o’ clock during the school year, but then also for special feast days and celebrations like Ash Wednesday… and the mass of the Holy Spirit in the beginning of the school year,” said Lewis alumni Kevin O’ Donnell. “It’s mostly just a group of people who want to provide music, casually get together or sing and provide music for the masses here in the ministry.”
O’ Donnell is in charge of the Music Ministry, while Associate Director of Mission and Ministry, Venus Wozniak, helps out with the group in his absence. Even though the Music Ministry has been around for almost 30 years, not many students are currently involved.
For now, there’s only two students in the horn section of the group. O’ Donnell and Wozniak take care of the singing for the group and O’Donnell plays the piano.
“We have invited other people to be part of the music ministry and we’ll see how that goes over the next few weeks,” said O’Donnell.
O’ Donnell came to Lewis as a student in 1991 and he was a part of the music ministry for all his four years at Lewis. He graduated with a degree in social work and worked at Lewis for seven years until 2002. He came back to Lewis for his master’s degree in pastoral leadership. Currently, O’Donnell works full-time at the Cathedral in Joliet and as a theology professor at the University of St. Francis.
“I know that when I started here as a student in ‘91, there was a professional pianist and professional singer who took care of music and then several of us students asked about starting a student choir, so that began in 1992,” said O’ Donnell. “There have been other staff in the ministry, who have been in charge of music ministry and it’s been that way all along.”
For O’ Donnell, it was like a peer group to him and also ended up taking leadership of it, allowing him to learn more about liturgical music.
“A lot of people that we hung around with, [like] roommates and friends, we did other programs within the ministry, participating in retreats and service projects,” said O’ Donnell. “Ever since I started it here at Lewis, I’ve been doing music, going to various churches in a Catholic setting and what not.”
Since he is in charge of the music ministry, his main concern is the budget and getting more people involved with it.
“We lost a singer last semester because she graduated and it would be nice to have a few other students involved in playing instruments or singing,” said O’ Donnell.
The only thing that the group does is perform liturgical music at the masses every Sunday evening, but they used to go to other churches to perform at other masses.
“In the past, the group has gone out to other churches and performed with a guest choir at other churches, which happened a few times,” said O’ Donnell. “There are no plans for that right now… if somebody wanted to, we certainly would try to make that happen, but it’s just not big enough right now.”
Students are encouraged to join the music ministry because it’s always good to socialize and perform with people that have the same interest in music. It’s important to be involved with groups on campus, especially one that is so welcoming to newcomers.
“It’s nice to see people have a common time throughout the week that the Lewis community gathers for worship and to really use the casual opportunity to get together and provide nice music without a whole lot of work,” said O’ Donnell. “My rules for involvement in the music ministry are you always have to keep your music and your voice in key, otherwise somebody accidentally makes up their own part, which is totally fine by me.”
O’ Donnell would like to see more students involved with music ministry in the near future because it’s a great opportunity to grow and develop as a student.
“It is an opportunity for me to grow and develop a particular skill and talent as a student, while I was here, that has become very useful and important to me later on in life,” said O’ Donnell.
Photo Credit: Katelyn Leano