May 26, 2018
Remembering Always


Nancy Bannister

1942 – 2006

Nancy Bannister was a very unique presence of joy, steadfastness, and hospitality who served as director of the NPM Western Office in Portland, Oregon, and as NPM’s chief liaison with the music industry for twenty-six years.  The majority of NPM members, however, knew her as the enthusiastic heart of the convention exhibit halls. She was attentive to every person who approached her and always responded generously and cheerfully. Nancy’s presence in NPM convention halls was enriched by her ability to bring to that work her life as a sister, believer, pastoral musician, wife, mother, and loving companion.

Born in Alabama, Nancy was raised by a musical family in the Baptist tradition, and she began her pilgrimage toward the Roman Catholic Church when she was a teenager. 

Her journey as wife, mother of five daughters, and music minister took her to Portland, Oregon, in the 1970’s where she served in several Catholic churches and became the first woman to serve as chair of the Music Commission for the Archdiocese of Portland. It was during this time that she first began to be involved with NPM, and joined the national staff in 1980, eventually becoming advertising director and head of the NPM Western Office where she served until her passing.

Particularly because of her work with the music industry, Nancy became an invaluable resource as part of the team that met with local committees to design the program for conventions. She also worked with publishers to provide library resources at NPM summer institutes, and her longtime work with children’s choirs made her the natural choice to help plan the NPM Children’s Choir Festivals that began as part of a larger choral festival at the 1993 Nation Convention in St. Louis, Missouri.

It was during the summer of 2006 when she felt unusually tired and sick but attributed those feelings to the duty of serving at three exhibit halls for the regional conventions while returning regularly to Alabama to care for her sister Cora, who had been diagnosed with cancer. On her return to Portland, Nancy went to her own physician, and tests revealed that she herself was suffering from ovarian cancer. She endured a ten-hour surgery on September 12 and expected to spend the next several days in intensive care, to be followed by recovery time at home and chemotherapy. But complications following the surgery weakened her and, despite occasional bright moments, she continued to lose ground. On Thursday, October 5, with her family, friends, daughters (some connected by telephone), and Father Virgil Funk present, Nancy died while the gathered community sang the Easter Alleluia.

Members of Nancy’s family, the NPM staff, and friends from the music industry gathered in Portland on October 14 and 15 with the Journey and Koinonia Community to celebrate Nancy’s funeral, following instructions and suggestions that she had written down four years before. 

To this day, Nancy’s presence is still felt at every gathering at NPM, and her legacy is caught up in her sense of joy, selfless commitment, and her generosity that provided tremendous validation to so many of us who were trying to find our voice as pastoral musicians.  It was her drive, passion, and humor that often kept NPM and its members moving forward.  What a presence she was! And how we thank God that she touched our lives. 

Adapted from a tribute prepared by NPM staff, printed in Pastoral Music, December–January 2007, pg. 7. Reprinted with permission.


Mike Hay

1953 – 1999

Michael H. Hay did not like to be called Michael.  He would always correct me and others when we did so. He always wanted to be, simply, “Mike.”

Mike died at the age of forty-five on Wednesday, April 14, in Norwalk, Ohio. He was born in Norwalk on June 23, 1953, and graduated from the local Saint Paul High School. He graduated from Saint Meinrad College in Indiana, and then went on to earn music degrees at Notre Dame and DePaul University in Chicago.

Mike was a teacher, music editor, liturgical advisor, recording artist and producer, composer, and pastoral musician. He taught at the high school from which he graduated and at Niles College and Loyola University in Chicago, at Notre Dame, and at the Oglala Sioux School in Marty, South Dakota. He served as music editor and recording artist for World Library Publications in Chicago, and he served as a liturgical advisor to the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Diocese of Toledo. At the time of his death, he was serving as music minister for the 4:30 PM Mass at his home parish in Norwalk.

So many of us remember him from his leadership at many conventions., and for his lyrical vocal instrument.  His voice rang out in leadership, inviting the assembly to sing in full-voiced conviction. As the voice soared, as at the 1981 Detroit convention, the spirit driving the voice radiated an unmistakable cue for all to join in the singing: “In Christ there is no east or west, in him no south or north, but one great fam’ly bound by love throughout the whole wide earth.” He offered these gifts with great generosity not only at NPM gatherings but at conferences and events throughout the country. We never ever sung better than when we were being led by Mike Hay.

As a teacher, Mike still enchanted students in classes and workshops. In his teaching and in his performances he always called forth what was best, what was right for the liturgy, what was appropriate for the worshiping community being led in sung prayer. Mike set a standard for our field.

Those privileged to know Mike knew someone whose faith and determination were immeasurably deep, though tried physically by two devastating car accidents and spiritually by other challenges. No challenge seemed ultimately insurmountable to him. Despite the daily pain, he still loved life, hoped for the future, smiled that incredible smile, and laughed aloud. He found renewal in life’s simple miracles—in flowers blooming outside his room, in the delight of “fine dining,” in the beauty of children’s faces as they sang.  I myself was so fortunate to have sung with him, and he sang the presider part for the Eucharistic Prayer for the original recording of my “Mass of Light” back in 1989, as well as for several other recordings, as well as for several of Marty Haugen’s projects.

Mike set people at the center of the work of his heart and mind. Blessed are we to have known him and to have called him brother.

Adapted from a tribute prepared by NPM staff, published in Pastoral Music, June-July 1999, pg. 6. Reprinted with permission.


David Clark Isele

1946 – 2016

David Clark Isele, composer, conductor, organist, and choirmaster, died at the age of seventy on June 24, 2016, in Tampa, Florida.

Born in 1946, he studied at Oberlin Conservatory, Southern Methodist University, and the Eastman School of Music. From 19731979, he served on the faculty of the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, where he founded the Notre Dame Chorale and conducted the Notre Dame Glee Club. From 1980–2011, he served as professor of music, composer-in-residence, and director of choral and vocal activities at the University of Tampa, Florida.

His compositions vary from works for orchestra and instrumental ensembles to large choral works, song, anthems and accompanied pieces for solo instruments. Several pieces have had European premiers, including “Prologue and Conjugation” for organ and “Cognitions,” also for organ. The latter was recorded for Swiss National Radio. “Te Deum,” a work for chorus and organ, had its London premiere. He may be best known in pastoral music circles for his Holy Cross Mass, especially for its alternate “Lamb of God” setting and his Psalms for the Church Year, including many settings that have influenced many composers and arrangers over the years.  During his time in Tampa, David also served as organist and choirmaster at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, and, in retirement, as organist at St. Andrew Episcopal Church.

To this day, the Holy Cross Lamb of God is the supreme piece of ritual music that has pulled us all into the mystery, not only of the fraction rite, but forward toward the great meal of rejoicing and thanksgiving.  God bless you, David. We miss your presence, your humor, and your gift. 

DH: 5/26/18

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