At the center of the ministry that Dan, Kathy and Matt have in common – is that they are all teachers.
It would be a daunting challenge to name a liturgical song that has penetrated the hearts of singing and praying congregations more than “Here I Am, Lord.” Or “You Are Near.” Or “Sing a New Song.” Or “City of God.” Or “Though the Mountains May Fall.” Or “A Time Has Come for Singing.” And we could name more, could we not? I believe it is safe to say that the liturgical compositions of Dan Schutte has shaped the landscape of sung prayer since Vatican II as much as any other force.
A native of Wisconsin, Dan is one of the best-known and most influential composers of Catholic music for liturgy in the English-speaking world. In addition to his Jesuit formation, Dan holds two master’s degrees, one in theology and one in liturgy, from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. He also did graduate studies in music composition under the direction of Fr. Kevin Waters, SJ, at Seattle University. He has three honorary doctoral degrees for his contribution to the life of the Church.
Many of his well-known liturgical song-prayers are from his years of collaboration with the St. Louis Jesuits. In 2015, OCP released the 40th-anniversary edition of Earthen Vessels, the group’s best-selling second album. But his own solo efforts have penetrated our life of sung prayer as well in recent years. Collections like To Praise You and his Mass setting Mass of Christ the Savior continue to exhibit his enduring ability to reach into people’s hearts, young and old, and draw them into prayer. Dan has also released bilingual and Spanish versions of this beloved mass setting, titled Misa Cristo Salvador, with Jaime Cortez.
Dan has served as liturgist and music director in various pastoral and academic settings. That experience, his deep knowledge of Sacred Scripture and a strong sense of Ignatian spirituality form the basis of every event he leads. Dan spends a significant amount of time each year traveling to offer concerts, retreats, workshops and parish missions to communities throughout the country. His ministry has had an enormous impact of the spiritual journey of millions of people. For the past several years, Dan has served as composer-in-residence at the University of San Francisco.
But this is all mere background. He is truly a spiritual leader, and it is reflected of course in his music and the many retreats and workshops that he presents, and he shares his love of God in passionate ways:
“In many ways, my images of God come from a wonderful mother. I knew that there was someone in the world who – regardless of what I did, what roads I took, no matter how I messed up or even what good I did – was never going to turn away. It was the kind of grounded love you never have to question. There’s the feminine image of God for me who is kind of like that mother. There is nothing that can separate us.
I love the image of God in the Hebrews Testament book, the Song of Songs: the God who is in love with us – so in love with us that God can hardly stand it – and just wants to be close. In my song “You Are Near” from Psalm 139, I talk about two images of God that are important to me. One is the God who knows us through and through. Even when we can’t figure ourselves out, God knows us. We don’t have to speak the words and yet God knows what’s in our hearts. The other image that I love from that psalm is the God who doesn’t wait in the “wings of our lives” until we’re ready to come and pay a visit. Ours is a God who pursues us, who comes after us, and is so in love with us that waiting is not an option.”
Beyond all of his accomplishments and indescribable contributions to the cause of sung prayer – what we know to be true about Dan is his tireless generosity, gentleness, prayerful spirit, and dedication to his craft, to ministry, and to God’s people. He among my most treasured of friends.
Yes, Dan, you have certainly heard responded to God “calling in the night.” And you most certainly hold God’s people in your heart. (DH: 8/12/18)
Video: Dan leading “Here I Am, Lord” in Singapore.
Good pastoral musicians are very often, teachers as well. It is a wonderful blessing that I have experienced over the years to meet so many liturgical musicians who, at the center of who they are and what they do, embrace the vocation of teacher. Kathy Leos, from Dallas, Texas – is most certainly a teacher. And this is what a couple of her former students have said about her and her influence on their lives:
“Mrs. Leos was the best teacher I had in high school and one of the most important people to enter my life. As a choir director, of course she taught me and my classmates how to use proper singing techniques and stage etiquette when performing. More importantly, Mrs. Leos instilled values in us that she felt very strongly about, inspired by her faith and belief in us as individuals. Her dedication to God and her students will forever set her apart in the eyes of students and colleagues.” Franklin Co
“I’ve always loved to sing, but Mrs. Leos is the one who taught me how to sing and how to find joy in pushing myself musically. She poured her heart and soul into every rehearsal and showed us first-hand how much passion you can fit into a single note.” Hana Kurihara
A native of Ohio, Kathy attended Ursuline College in Cleveland where she majored in English and Music Education, graduating in 1980. Soon after, she taught for three years in Cleveland and Chicago as part of the Dominican Lay Volunteer program, and then moved to Dallas to teach at Bishop Lynch High School 1983, where she has taught for 35 years!
A mother of seven children and an annual expanded family of some 100 students each year, Kathy was also involved in the sanctuary movement in Chicago and at the southern border of Texas for many years. In light of recent events regarding immigration, she is presently working to organize benefit concerts and other events to raise money to help separated families in the Diocese of El Paso.
In addition to her teaching music and English, she is of course, always involved in helping to direct the annual high school musical at Bishop Lynch High School, and very active in numerous other musical experiences, choir tours, and other opportunities for her beloved students. I have been in Kathy’s presence when she is working with young people, and it really is something to behold. I have learned so much in how she celebrates their gifts, and their very lives.
Active in the National Association of Pastoral Musicians for many, many years – both nationally, and with the local chapter in Dallas, she has been involved in parish ministry – but she really has instilled the love of liturgy and its sung prayer into the liturgical celebrations with her students, at diocesan youth celebrations and has sent young people regularly to “Music Ministry Alive” over the years.
Kathy – you are a role model for us all. In addition to your seven children, you have hundreds and hundreds of other children, whom you have parented in such holy ways – and whose lives have been changed forever, because of your love and sacrifice for them. God is so good. And you are a sign of that blessed goodness. (DH: 8/12/18)
Video: Kathy Leos conducting the Bishop Lynch High School Choir
Matt Reichert is a native of Stearns County, Minnesota – which is a legendary region for many reasons, including it being the home of two main centerpieces of high-quality education and tremendous contributions to liturgy and liturgical music: St. John’s University in Collegeville, and the College of St. Benedict, in St. Joseph (just down the road). Both institutions are steeped in the Benedictine tradition, and Matt is a product of this unique charism.
Matt’s primary education and background has been in history and economics, but he has always been involved in pastoral music in both parish settings from an early age, and also, more and more in recent years, on a national level.
A graduate of St. John’s, Matt also holds two Master’s degrees from the University of Notre Dame, in Curriculum and Instruction, and in Leadership Administration. Right out of the blocks, Matt joined the faculty at St. John’s Preparatory School from 2007 to 2016, serving the last few years as its Principal. Since then, Matt has been on the faculty at the University, and in addition to his teaching load, he is involved in many other aspects of campus life there as well as St. Ben’s. Together with his wife Theresa, they have four beautiful young daughters: Audrey, Clare, Alice, and Grace … all a handful of course, but divine blessings as well!
Matt was a youth participant at “Music Ministry Alive!” in its early years (2000, 2001, 2002), and in the years that followed served as a team member, and eventually became a part of the leadership team and Adult Track coordinator for the last several years.
Because of his tremendous contributions to MMA over the years and his commitment to the cause of developing the ministerial gifts of young people in the vocation of liturgical music, together with his friends (and fellow MMA alums and team members) Zack Stachowski, and Jes Garceau, are continuing the mission with a new effort, “One Call” (www.onecallinstitute.com), that held its inaugural program just this past June (at St. John’s). These three marvelous young saints are, with this effort, dedicating a big portion of their time and hearts to nurture the young church in their rightful place in helping us “sing a new Church into being.” Be sure to check out their website, and their Facebook page.
In addition to “One Call,” Matt and Zack have also embarked (already with great success and a large listening audience) on a marvelous ongoing podcast program, entitled “Open Your Hymnal” (www.openyourhymnal.com) which provides listeners with opportunities to take a closer look into the song-prayers that have touched our lives in the celebration of the liturgy. Already, the program has featured interviews composers such as Michael Joncas, Marty Haugen, Lori True, Dan Kantor, Fran O’Brien, Christopher Walker, Paul Inwood, Rory Cooney, Gary Daigle, Jesse Manibusan, Alan Hommerding, Ricky Manalo, Jaime Cortez, and yours truly.
These two young men are also now involved in the leadership of NPM (The National Association of Pastoral Musicians) helping the organization develop their social media and other internet-based initiatives, one of them featuring Matt as the host of the newly released series, “Ministry Monday.”
Matt – what a blessing and witness you are, and your dedication to being a leader in the next chapter of the ministry of pastoral music is a gift to us all. We are grateful. Keep it coming!
Video: Matt teaching about Stella Maris Chapel at St. John’s University