What to Do When Banned From Your Home Choir
  • So - what would you do if you were returning to your home parish, and found out that the pastor had sent out an email banning you (among others) from singing or playing organ for any liturgical function until he gave permission? Further, what if the pastor only told this to the church choir, and never contacted you about this decision? Yet further, what if, when the choir director inquired as to why you are banned from singing, the pastor refuses to give any reason at all?

    How would you handle this sort of situation? (I ask from personal experience.)
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,097
    Good heavens… I don’t even know where to begin. I’ve been deemed persona non grata once, but I couldn’t have gotten out of there fast enough anyway, and all the people I cared about new the truth and that I wasn’t to blame, so I was afforded some solace. Your situation sounds entirely different. Perhaps you need to have a come to Jesus talk with the pastor and a witness (presumably the choir director).
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • CatherineS
    Posts: 652
    I had that happen with a devotional group I had belonged to, after I argued with the director. I was thereafter 'canceled'. I just put the whole sad mess at the foot of the Cross. I lost some dear friends, but was gladdened to see that a few stuck with me.

    I'll pray for you and them. Our Lady works greater miracles than our complaints.

  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 9,611
    Sad to hear, but is this over over differences in liturgical approach to music?
  • As I said, Francis, the pastor refused to explain the reasons why. I have never been at odds with the pastor, indeed anyone there, over the style of music. At most, his follow-up explanation compared it with showing up and serving as an altar boy unannounced, which is a faulty analogy, because A) it wasn’t as if I was showing up as a stranger (I was singing at this parish for at least a year before the current pastor showed up) and B) I always kept in contact with the choir director about when I was available, and for what motets & ordinaries I was and wasn’t to sing. But the pastor wants the level of control to where he must be consulted on who is and isn’t allowed to sing in the choir.
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • Don9of11Don9of11
    Posts: 521
    So - what would you do if you were returning to your home parish, and found out that the pastor had sent out an email banning you (among others) from singing or playing organ for any liturgical function until he gave permission?


    At one time, my home parish only wanted registered parishioners to be members of the choir. It would be inappropriate for me to return on any given Sunday and think that I could just start singing in the choir again.

    So one reason maybe to foster in-house volunteers and the pastor can't do that if "outsiders" keep showing up. It's a painful decision but perhaps a necessary one.

    What you do is respect the pastors decision and move on.
  • Does the Pastor have a musical background, a bias for or against Latin and how long has he been at the parish?

    I ask these questions not to be rude but because I have been in a similar situation having to do with non-communicating priest/employers.

    God bless you,
    Ruthy
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,097
    I guess the big question is: does the incumbent music director want you to play? If the answer is yes, then you have a right to know what, precisely, the pastor takes issue with. If it's more a matter of, "hey, I'm here—do you mind if I play something?" then I'd say to avoid such a habit since that might derail the incumbent, especially if they are too shy to say no for whatever reason.
  • Elmar
    Posts: 382
    What you do is respect the pastors decision and move on.
    Personally, I would only take this as a last resort when I do not manage to find out what's on.
    A shepherd who knows his sheep should also know what's the optimum amount of explanation of his decisions... I'm always amazed how often an 'ordre de mufti' goes unquestioned by the remaining flock here, in a country where really everything is being questioned and discussed normally.
    Is there anyone in your home parish who you can trust so that you can ask openly, and who at the same time might know? (DOM, parish secretary etc.)
  • Carol
    Posts: 700
    I have no useful comment except, I feel upset on your behalf and I will pray for wisdom for you, the music director, and the pastor.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 2,862
    The problem here is the lack of explanation. But it's not unusual, a good deal of priests that I've had the dubious pleasure of dealing with are passive-aggressive, a good deal of others leave "on retreat", which is later discovered to have been anger-management counseling.

    Maybe it's just my diocese, but the lack of vocations has led to a situation where the vocations office will take anyone who isn't three-hours dead, resulting in a large number of priests who have zero people skills, no administrative abilities, and a shocking lack of general life skills.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW Elmar
  • Don - it’s not a matter of competing with “in-house volunteers”. When I was there I assisted the choir director in bringing new people within the parish to start singing with the choir. I was helping as best as I could with building a polyphony program. Where the choir had trouble singing Palestrina’s “Jesu Rex Admirabilis” before, now they are singing Parson’s “Ave Maria”. So, if I’m an outsider for doing that - yeah, perhaps it is just as well I move on. This particular community has a knack for ostracizing “outsiders” - and really, if you aren’t born into the movement, that’s how they view you.

    Ruth - the pastor is a competent musician, but as far as I know has no formal musical training. He has been there a little under a year. (This is after my being at the parish well over a year, before leaving for seminary.)

    Serviam - Yes. I have only sung with her express permission, and I would only play when she asked. She also wrote to the pastor asking for clarification on this announcement (I’m not the only one banned from singing.)

    Elmar - I’ve asked both the choir director and the Schola director. They have no idea. (The Schola Director, a good friend of mine, said “our pastor must really hate you!”)

    Carol - thank you. I appreciate it.

    Salieri- That’s a bingo. My last in-person interaction with this pastor involved him threatening me by contacting my rector at the seminary- because I didn’t say hello to him as soon as I arrived at the church that morning.
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,797
    By "returning to your home parish", do you mean "Back in town for a visit"?
    It seems to me that it's not the pastor's job to micromanage a music program. And that if the DM has found your occasional services useful, that it's his job to defend his prerogatives with the pastor. But if he hasn't, I'd suggest that it's a "shake the dust from your feet" moment. For me personally, that would involve developing a musical relationship with a nearby parish, and avoiding the original one altogether. But if there are family reasons why you must attend there, go, and don't even sing congregationally (Obedience is a virtue, no?). I know, it feels totally weird to not be working, especially if you're obviously needed. I wouldn't even put myself in a position where this priest could kill my joy, but YMMV.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,373
    Sad to say, there are some genuine social misfits in the priesthood. Maybe there was a time when vocations directors could be more choosy, but I would agree with Salieri,

    Maybe it's just my diocese, but the lack of vocations has led to a situation where the vocations office will take anyone who isn't three-hours dead, resulting in a large number of priests who have zero people skills, no administrative abilities, and a shocking lack of general life skills.
    Also sad to say, the same situation extends into religious orders.

    Choirs also can have some peculiar politics behind the scenes. Those smiling faces hide a lot of ill will and jealousy and you never really know what they are thinking.

    Thanked by 2Elmar StimsonInRehab
  • Elmar
    Posts: 382
    It seems to me that it's not the pastor's job to micromanage a music program.
    In our parish there's an awful lot of things our pastor micromanages, in spite of his being overworked by the growing number of official duties, rather than trusting competent parshioners (staff/volunteer) that they just do their job.
    Several of the latter, including myself, prefer doing business as usual waiting for instructions over trying do something on our own that might not please pastor.
    (A lot of communication has been destroyed during covid-lockdowns and has still to recover.)
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,373
    Too bad the civil authorities protect these clerics. I long for the day to return when we could tar and feather them and ride them out of town on a rail. It would be a wake-up call for some of them. Others still aren't bright enough to catch on and should go into the government.
  • ServiamScores
    Posts: 1,097
    I've long quipped to a friend of mine that some priests (and especially some bishops) need some "baseball bat theology lessons". Long ago a heretic could have literally been chased out of town with pitchforks and firebrands (and the people would do it too). We need a little of that these days.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,393
    Sad to say, there are some genuine social misfits in the priesthood.


    NOW you tell me. /s
  • CatherineS
    Posts: 652
    Choirs also can have some peculiar politics behind the scenes. Those smiling faces hide a lot of ill will and jealousy and you never really know what they are thinking.


    Now you tell me. ;)
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 8,734
    Ubi caritas?

    Just to offer a speculation: perhaps the pastor was displeased that you left at all; or perhaps he doesn't like where you went, somehow; and then (in either case) he is getting even in this way.
    Thanked by 2NihilNominis tomjaw
  • JAQ - most often it’s popping in for a visit, except for the summer when I’m there more regularly.

    Chonak - I was going to ask, what sort of priest is displeased when he has someone going to seminary, especially the seminary of his order? - but on second thought, I realized how human nature works...