• I don't think I've ever posted here before, but I am in need of some advice! I work for a parish (1500 households) as DM; it's in a rural area, and had a very low liturgical culture prior to the arrival of the present incumbent. In nearly 3 years, we have transformed the early mass into a very respectable high Mass; we sing Ordinaries from the Kyriale, and do as many of the propers as we can. The mass was briefly ad orientem before the archbishop quashed it. On my recommendation, we purchased the St. Michael's Hymnal. We have some genuinely enthusiastic boosters for the high mass, along with the ubiquitous (generally elderly and female) nay-sayers. A year in, I was asked to provide music for a weekly high TLM at our mission; we carried on with the TLM for a year before the pastor axed it. At the same time, the pastor changed the Sat. vigil mass into a Spanish mass and brought in a mariachi band; they are genuinely popular, and the pastor is very supportive. Just to be clear, then, our parish has 4 weekend masses, three of which I provide music for in some way; a high mass, a sung mass with Breaking Bread (accompanied by myself on piano or organ), and an afternoon mass at our mission (now in English). I am also responsible for the Children's Choir.

    Yesterday I arrived for the Good Friday service, only to learn that the service had been made bilingual. No one bothered to tell me. I was very angry with the pastor, who has a history of leaving me out of the loop. As you can imagine, it was not the emotion I wished to feel on Good Friday. I am beginning to feel that the pastor has misrepresented his intentions for the parish; I left a very comfortable organist position at an Episcopal church to work for the Catholic parish, because I was under the impression that he meant business about changing the liturgical and musical culture. He is an eclectic; he is happy to have traditional music alongside the mariachi mass and Breaking Bread. In short, I am theoretically the DM, but I am restricted to influencing one parish mass (along with the very small mission mass). An amateur guitar-player chooses the music for the later parish mass, and I accompany it.

    I am really tempted to give up the job; I feel overworked and underpaid, and perhaps, most importantly, I don't see the parish making any more progress. It seems to me that we've maxed out; the pastor just doesn't have the stomach for it. Hanging over my head, however, is the knowledge that leaving would mean the end of the high mass, at least in its current incarnation. I don't even have a substitute organist, on the very few occasions I'm allowed to take off---the area is poor in musicians. The alternative is to give up the title of DM and ask to assume direction only of the early mass, with a concomitant cut in pay, and perhaps request to be paid per diem. That arrangement at least would reflect reality, and it would leave me free to find week-day employment. I've also considered asking for a leave of absence.
    Thanked by 1eft94530
  • All I can say is that I will certainly pray for you and your parish. It's certainly discouraging when you move so far to have everything turned back on you.

    May St. Cecilia intercede for all parish musicians in difficult situations like these.
    Thanked by 2Carol eft94530
  • Perhaps, once the dust has settled, you could have a good sit-down with the pastor to discuss your concerns and let him know what your thoughts are.
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,634
    I am really tempted to give up the job; I feel overworked and underpaid, and perhaps, most importantly, I don't see the parish making any more progress.


    Welcome to the Catholic Church. It can be like that almost anywhere, only varying by degree, not kind.

    I will add that pastors can be pulled in so many directions, they get overwhelmed.
    Thanked by 1Carol
  • David AndrewDavid Andrew
    Posts: 1,191
    Catholic sacred music is a tire fire: it’s cause is from a large pile of used junk that heats up from within and eventually bursts into flames, producing thick choking toxic fumes that pollute everything near it and is impossible to put out.

    The parallel is exact. Repeatedly pile bad music and dubious liturgical choices on top of good ones until finally the whole thing combusts and the only choice is to abandon it and let it burn out on its own.

    St. Cecilia, St. Joseph, and St. Gregory the Great, pray for us!
  • ClergetKubiszClergetKubisz
    Posts: 1,890
    There are some clear signs that the pastor doesn't want you there any longer. The immediate one is that you have been routinely left out of the loop. Not communicating with you and just dropping duties or changes on you is a passive-agressive way of telling you to leave. He is trying to get you out without a conflict.
  • I will add that pastors can be pulled in so many directions, they get overwhelmed.


    Unfortunately, they are also down-trodden and left with no backbone in too many cases.
  • canadashcanadash
    Posts: 1,372
    Write down all of your thoughts and keep them aside.
    ln two to three weeks review these and set up a meeting with the pastor.

    Give yourself some more time to decide what to do.
    I've learned that making decisions in times of desolation is a bad idea.
    It is a difficult time of year.
    Last night two changes were made to the Vigil about which I was not informed until five minutes prior. They threw me off. It happens sometimes, especially at this time of year when routine ceases to be and there are many people who have the priest's ear.

    May God bless you and the work you are doing. Thank you.
  • StimsonInRehabStimsonInRehab
    Posts: 1,413
    Mr. Isidore, today of all days (except maybe Christmas) is the prime day to talk about burn-out. All musicians are overworked this week. By way of example, I spent Good Friday with the flu, hacking my way through Tenebrae followed by a night filled with fever dreams about what rubrics to follow for Holy Week.

    Dash of Canada is right in saying that you should write down these thoughts, review them in a week or so, and then decide. Don't rush into this. It's not a heat of the moment decision.

    The other thing to ponder is - how much does your pastor know where you stand on all of this? I ask because sometimes it can be surprising what we take for granted as far as letting our pastors know. We've all dealt with our fair share of "beta" priests (the kind Noel describes) but it always helps to make absolute sure that they know exactly where we stand on any matter, liturgically, musically, you name it.

    Make a firm, realistic idea in your mind of where you want to go with your ministry in the next year (or six months, perhaps) and let the pastor know. If possible, let them know your "game plan", as it were. The more details, the better. If the priest doesn't share the same goals as you, brush the dust off your shoes and move on. Either way, I'm sure he'll appreciate you being straightforward about your expectations and not being obtuse.

    You have my prayers, though. I'm in a similar spot as you are and dealing with these situations aren't easy. PM me if you'd like to discuss this further.

    (PS - anyone else getting snow for Easter???)
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,634
    No snow for Easter, but Wednesday is dropping to 35 degrees. It's crazy. We are in the south.
    Thanked by 1StimsonInRehab
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 9,634
    By way of example, I spent Good Friday with the flu, hacking my way through Tenebrae followed by a night filled with fever dreams about what rubrics to follow for Holy Week.


    Some day I need to write a novel about my place. This year, I have a calf muscle strain. Yep, pain, swelling, hard to wear the left organ shoe, etc. No leg workouts for a month while I do rehab exercises. I played lots of French works this year with no or limited pedal parts.

    At Easter Vigil, one of my older choristers dripped candle wax all over himself. Another spilled it on the floor. With limited mobility, I got the official choir loft broom and dust pan, cleaned up the wax on the floor, and the elderly gentleman's son cleaned the wax off his father. When I left the church today, a trumpet cipher had popped up on the recessional hymn. I could have fixed it, but didn't feel like crawling around in the chamber. I'll call the service company tomorrow. However, I did cancel rehearsal this week since we all need some time off.

    I guess I am blessed because our priests are great. They have their days when they fumble around and seem to get distracted, but they are good guys who genuinely mean well. When things do get changed or forgotten at the last minute, the intentions are good but the memories fail.

    Offering prayers for the original poster and his situation. Also for Stimson's recovery.
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,141
    Snow yesterday a couple of hundred feet above us on the hills, but the church is 30 feet above mean sea level, and facing the sea, so snow often gets dispersed by sea spray. Seaweed and sand outside the entrance yesterday. Today's high tide is 25 feet above mean, hoping waves do not get into the porch today.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,141
    Vigil went OK, main Mass of the Day a dreadful shambles. Musicians missing or anticipating all their cues, wrong choices of length of piece. Thurible never to hand ... , servers clueless. Have written two pages of commentary, and intend to give it to the parish priest. Fortunately for my morale, I have absolutely no role, having be barred for lèse majesté.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 981
    I just want to say that when jobs go bad, they go bad really fast. If you're dealing with a bean-counter, you will never be able to convince them of your value.

    I thought I was in a place where this wasn't an issue...I have been proven wrong very recently. When you're trying to support a wife and a growing family, this is a truly troubling development. To paraphrase what @David Andrew said above, working for the Church is a tire fire. Get used to it.
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • Any chance of getting your Episcopal Church position back?
    This seems to me to be the only really sane alternative.

    Is there an Ordinariate parish anywhere near you?

    Continuing to serve in your current irrational environment can only lead to more frustration and unhappiness. There is no vision here, and no receptivity to any.
  • ghmus7
    Posts: 1,023
    I am praying an Ave for you.
    You might think carefully about what you could say and how to phrase it if you can meet with the pastor one on one.
    It is possible that what he is doing is not intentional - the stress and decision he is making may seem to you that he is purposely leaving you out of the loop, but I have found that this is not always what is really happening - don't fall into the trap of assuming the worst. Sounds like you need to establish better communication, and at least try.