St. Christopher Parish in Tonawanda has begun a new monthly Praise & Worship program that blends something old and something new. Father Steven A. Jekielek, pastor, and music director Sean Polen have designed a program that incorporates adoration with Scripture readings and music that mixes traditional, contemporary, meditative and upbeat music.
"It's a worship through music mixed with some readings, some background meditative music and some really powerful more contemporary music that takes different readings and kind of represents the readings through music to reach people," said Polen, who came to the parish last fall.
Adult parishioners and students from St. Christopher School handle the readings, so the message comes from the entire church to the entire church.
The idea came from Father Jekielek who brought the idea to Polen shortly after he was hired in October. "I'm all for trying anything at least once," Polen said. "It's actually been really nice because St. Christopher's has a very diversified music ministry. We have a traditional group, a semi-contemporary group, a completely contemporary group and another mixed group that blends traditional and contemporary worship. So, it gives all of them a chance to work together. It really helps the music ministry function well together, as well as being good for the people."
The music and readings are chosen through a back and forth process between Polen and Father Jekielek.
"There are times when I choose the music first or give him some ideas, then he'll choose readings that he feels fits in. Then there are times when he'll choose the readings first and I'll read through the readings he has chosen and see what I am inspired to do," Polen explained.
They try to match the themes with the season. In May, they wrapped up Easter with a joyful loud sound that included a contemporary guitar sound.
The monthly event is open to all, regardless of parish affiliation or religious denomination. "It is Adoration, (but) any Christian, even if their not Catholic, I think would get something out of it, feel a part of it," Polen said. "Attendance is small at this point, but it's been growing. And everybody who comes is moved spiritually, which is what we're really going for. The whole background behind music in Church is to be reflective of the readings, whether it is very large, loud, almost bombastic music or whether it is contemplative music, it is meant to reflect the readings. So, a lot of people seem to get a lot out of it. Everybody has been very positive and always wants to know when the next one is. So, it's been a really great experience."
The next Praise & Worship night will be held Thursday, June 21 at 7 p.m.