Diocesan Choir launches Youth Pastoral Musician Scholarship Award Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by By Dick Jones, For the Catholic Herald   
Thursday, Mar. 08, 2018 -- 12:00 AM

MADISON -- Expanding its music ministry, the Madison Diocesan Choir is launching an initiative likely to benefit parishes throughout the diocese for years to come: student scholarships to help ensure a new generation of liturgical musicians, as members of their church choirs or choir accompanists.

The Youth Pastoral Musician Scholarship Award begins this year with two $500 awards, one to a junior high school student, the other to a senior high school student, allowing them to attend an approved summer music clinic. To be eligible, students must be involved in their parish music programs as regular participants.

Encouraging youth

“The Madison Diocesan Choir is excited to offer these two scholarships to youth who participate in music ministry,” said Linda Galang, who as chair of the choir scholarship committee led efforts to develop the initiative.

“Encouraging youth to participate in music ministry is a new way for the choir to meet our mission of fostering and encouraging full participation in the liturgy,” added Galang.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Patrick Gorman, choir director, as well as director of the Diocesan Office of Worship. For some time, the choir has considered ways to involve more youth in music ministry, and this year, its board, with Arlene Michaels as president, decided to act.

“One of the things I’ve seen of great concern to people is church music and involving young people,” Gorman said. “This is a way, I think, to put our money where our mouths are, and say, well, let’s get the young people involved and help educate them. Hopefully this will be of some benefit to the Church.”

What prompted the choir to act, he said, was the 2016 Lessons & Carols service that featured St. Maria Goretti Catholic School students -- the Cardinal Cantors -- as special musical guests. “Everybody loved it; it was very nice,” Gorman said. “After hearing the Cardinal Cantors, the idea arose of scholarships.”

How to apply

Students interested in applying can find an application on the diocesan choir webpage ( san-choir). They can also contact the Diocesan Office of Worship and have an application sent to them. Completed applications must:

• Include a brief essay, no more than two pages, addressing two questions: Why the student participates in the parish music ministry and what the student hopes to gain from the summer music clinic.

• Be signed by a staff member of the student’s parish.

• Submitted by April 1, either by email or regular post with a postmark no later than April 1.

The completed application can be sent by mail to: Madison Diocesan Choir, 702 S. High Point Rd., Madison, WI 53719, or by email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Summer programs

As an example of an approved summer music clinic, Galang and Gorman cited one offered by the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Music. The UW-Madison summer Music Clinic offers two one-week sessions in June for students in band, chorus, jazz ensemble, musical theatre, and orchestra, an opportunity to focus on fundamentals, develop their talent, and improve their skills.

UW-Platteville and UW-Whitewater also have summer music clinics.

One might ask, why one of these camps or clinics, and not one by a religious organization, and Gorman said it’s a legitimate question.

“But one of the significant issues with music in the Church is that we need people who know the fundamentals of music,” he said. “How do you sing, how do you play an instrument, which goes beyond just knowing about church theology and liturgy.

“There are multiple disciplines at work, and we’re trying to focus on the discipline of music with young people and connect it to Church, where they’re serving in their music ministry, but not requiring them to attend a Church related camp.”

Whether more scholarships are awarded in the future will depend on the success of the initial effort and a sustainable funding source. While its resources are limited, the choir currently has sufficient funding to launch the initiative.

The choir would welcome and gratefully accept contributions from any individuals and organizations in the diocese who wish to join in this initiative.

The rewards may not be immediate, but Gorman said the initiative, over time, is sure to benefit the students, their parishes, and the Church.

“We’re not sure whether these kids will continue in their music ministry; we’re not sure what they’ll do,” he said. “But hopefully they’ll continue somewhere in music ministry as they get older. And being a better musician will help them contribute to the quality of music in their church.”


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