July 3, 2018
Composers / Pastoral Musicians of the Month



When I think of Gary Daigle, Chrissy Fritzen, and Joe Camacho – one word comes to mind that is consistent with all of them: generosity. 


Presently, Gary is he director of music at St. Edna Catholic Church in Arlington Heights, IL.  His first compositions for musical liturgy were collaborations with the Dameans on the collection Remember Your Love (1978). Gary continues to work with the Dameans as a composer, arranger, and producer.

In 1993, he released Praise the Maker’s Love, his first collection under his own name. Over the years his primary collaborations have been with his good friend Rory Cooney. Gary has produced all of Rory’s most recent collections and he has set a number of Rory’s texts to music. He has also produced recordings by Donna Peña, John Foley, S.J., Jaime Cortez, Liam Lawton, Tony Alonso, Michael Mahler, Fran O’Brien, Danielle Rose, Paul Melley and far too many more to mention, as well as for many of the recordings for the GIA Choral Subscription Service.   He also has collaborated with Marty Haugen on two collections of ritual music with GIA, and has been a consistent coordinator of major concert events throughout the United States. 

Some of his most well-known song prayers include You Have Anointed Me, We Praise You, The Lord is My Shepherd, as well as his collaborations with Rory that include Wherever You Go, I Myself Am the Bread of Life and numerous others. 

Gary received his Bachelor of Music from Southeastern Louisiana University and has worked as a campus minister at the Catholic University of America. From 1985-1991, he was Director of Music Ministry at the Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, Arizona. Gary has given workshops and shaped ritual for national and regional conferences throughout the United States for the North American Forum on the Catechumenate, and conferences such as The East Coast Conference for Religious Education, the Hofinger Conference, the Gathering, and The National Association of Pastoral Musicians, and the annual Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, to name but a few.  He has also served as a team member for “Music Ministry Alive!” and his entire life is one of service to empowering ministers of sung prayer.

Terry Donohoo, Marty Haugen, Rory Cooney, Michael Joncas & David Haas

But beyond that, this man is the real deal.  Beyond being a master musician, arranger, performer and composer, he lays all of his talents for the praying church, and especially to help guide new and emerging composers, shepherding them to make the best of choices and to have their music be presented in the best way possible. 

He has been a friend for so many of us who know him.  I am honored to call him friend.  And I know that the singing and praying church is better because of his contributions and selfless dedication.  God bless you, Gary.  (DH: 7/5/18) 




Generosity.  Amazing generosity.  Lavish generosity.  And – HOSPITALITY.  These words only begin to describe Chrissy Fritzen.  She has something to teach all of us when it comes to selfless giving and welcome to everyone – it just oozes from her.

Chrissy used to work in the business world and is presently a school teacher, but if you were to ask me what her vocation is, beyond wife and mother, it would be a pastoral musician.  As a volunteer cantor, choir member and dancer, Chrissy brings such passion, care, and commitment to sung prayer that truly is inspirational.  She always goes the extra mile and is one of the most dependable and resourceful people I know.  I have more faith in Chrissy coming through than I do the sun rising each morning.  Chrissy is a closer.  And she does so with such amazing humility and with a servant’s heart.

A wife and mother of 2 daughters, Chrissy studied music, dance in theatre in college, and brings those talents to the fore with care and gratitude.  She has been a cantor and choir member at various parishes throughout the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, including St. Matthew’s parish in West St. Paul, and now, at Corpus Christi Parish in Roseville.  She has been a student and partner in ministry with Bonnie Faber and myself in various settings.  She is one of our major volunteers for the Cretin-Derham Hall Taize’ community that I lead each month and serves as a cantor and ensemble member at those gatherings.

with her partner in crime, Bonnie Faber

Chrissy also loves young people, and for several years served as a team member, transportation director, and dorm counselor for Music Ministry Alive! here in St. Paul.  She has transitioned from that to now being a team member in similar capacities for the newly formed One Call program at St. John’s in Collegeville, MN. 

with Jaime’ Cortez at “One Call”

A cantor of great skill – Chrissy holds the quality of voice, attitude and leadership that embodies what Fr. Lucien Deiss used to say about the ministerial balance that cantors must embody – a voice beautiful enough to bring the music and text to life, combined with a sufficient humility so as not to draw attention to themselves when the service is over. 

This is who Chrissy is in every aspect of her vocation as a cantor and pastoral musician.  I learn from her every time she sings and leads us in prayer.  What a witness. (DH: 7/5/18)


All who have met and experienced Joe Camacho have received the gift of tapping into something very special: a man of faith, steeped in his culture, and deeply in love with the people in his life, and attentive and present to all who have come to know him as a gentle and joy-filled man.

Joe is of native Hawaiian blood, and lived in Hawaii his entire life.  Born in Honolulu into a very, very large family, Joe studied music, dance (hula), the Hawaiian language and the folklore of the islands beginning at a very young age.  Joe became a tour guide and major entertainer for many years that not only took him to all corners of the Hawaiian Islands, but also throughout the world.

With Father George DeCosta

After many years of travel and work in the entertainment industry, Joe met Fr. George DeCosta, who was a very powerful mentor for Joe, and this deep friendship led Joe to say goodbye to the entertainment world and to serve side by side with Fr. Joe and others at a very unique faith community on the Big Island (Hilo), Malia Puka O Kalani (Mary, Gate of Heaven).  This community is located on native Hawaiian homeland, and the parish team provided a very unique and powerful ministry to that community for many years.  This small poor parish of about 300 people began a conference called BILAC (The Big Island Liturgy and Arts Conference), that brought people together from all over the Islands, as well as people from the mainland and beyond.  This conference brought musicians, ministers, artists, theologians to come and empower the Hawaiian church, such as Bishop John Cummins, Fr. Eugene Walsh, Marty Haugen, Fr. Jim Dunning, Fr. Ray Kemp, Elaine Rendler, Bishop Remi de Roo, Michael Joncas, Fr. Ray East, Bob Hurd, Lori True, Bobby Fisher, Bishop Ray Hunthausen, Rob Glover, Gary Daigle, Rory Cooney, Christopher Walker … and myself, just to name a few.

Because of Joe’s influence, in particular, many compositions came to life that have touched the lives of Catholics everywhere, such as Song Over the Waters (Haugen), Song of the Body of Christ (Haas), The Mountain of God (True), I Am For You (Cooney), Weave One Heart (Haugen), We Come to Your Feast (Joncas), E Na Lima Hana/The Working Hands (Haas), One Ohana (Haugen), You Are the Presence (Haas), and so many, many more.  And Joe is a composer in his own right, having several of his pieces published by GIA Publications.

Many have come to know Joe beyond the Hawaiian Islands, as he has appeared and shared his story as a pastoral musician, dancer, storyteller and teacher at Music Ministry Alive!, for conventions of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress,  The Pastoral Ministry Gathering in Chicago, and many others. 

Those of us who have come to know him well over the years have come to be in the presence of a true gentle presence, always generous, filled with a delightful sense of humor, and most of all – a joy of life, of living, of people and a passionate minister and servant of God’s people.  Joe has become an important part of my life – he is my brother, my Ohana; my friend. (DH: 7/5/18)

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