August 3, 2012

Priest and couple honored for liturgical music leadership

By Sean Gallagher

Three leaders in liturgical music in central and southern Indiana were recently honored by the National Association of Pastoral Musicians (NPM) for their ministry.

Father Clement Davis, pastor of St. Bartholomew Parish in Columbus, received the organization’s Outstanding Pastor Award, and Charles and Dianne Gardner were given its Virgil C. Funk Stewardship Award on July 26 during its annual national convention held this year in Pittsburgh.

That award is named after NPM’s founder, a retired priest of the Diocese of Richmond, Va.

According to the organiation’s president, J. Michael McMahon, the award is intended to honor people “who have given of themselves, especially through liturgy and music, to the Church. They’re usually also great supporters of and have contributed a lot to NPM.”

Father Davis said he was stunned when he learned earlier this year that he was to receive his award. NPM honors one pastor each year who shows leadership in fostering good liturgical music and works well with pastoral musicians in their parish.

“I was flabbergasted. I was very surprised,” he said. “I thought, ‘Somebody’s made some mistake.’ ”

But Bogdan Minut, director of music ministry at St. Bartholomew, knew that Father Davis was deserving of it because he serves the parish community in Columbus so well.

“He is a superb pastor,” Minut said. “He has the ability to communicate well with people, to minister to everyone in need. From the first time that you meet with him, he is so approachable and knowledgeable of various things regarding Catholicism and the liturgy and all the ministries of the Church. He is devoted to his work 24/7.”

Minut also said that Father Davis fosters a strong music ministry at St. Bartholomew first by personally leading the way.

“Even though he is modest about it, he is a very good singer,” Minut said. “He always tries to do his best to chant at Mass, to sing along in the congregational singing. That sets a good example.”

Behind the scenes, Father Davis also does much to encourage his parishioners to put their musical talents to use in the faith community’s liturgies.

The result is that there are several music ensembles active there, whom Minut describes as his “10 choirs of angels,” that play and sing a broad variety of music styles.

“I don’t know of any other parish that would have this diversity and flexibility and style,” Minut said.

Charlie Gardner, who has helped foster excellence in liturgical music in the archdiocese since the early 1970s, has appreciated the priest’s leadership in this field since Father Davis became pastor of St. Monica Parish in Indianapolis in 1983 then began his service as pastor of St. Bartholomew in 1997.

“His support of approaching liturgy and leadership of liturgy in such a collaborative way with other leaders, and especially musicians, is just very exemplary,” Gardner said. “It’s really good to see somebody that not only works well with musical leaders in the parish, but also just goes the extra mile to really be supportive of them, which he definitely does.”

If Gardner is able to recognize leadership in liturgy and music in other people, it may be because he and his wife, Dianne, have provided so much of it themselves for some 40 years in the archdiocese.

J. Michael McMahon, president of NPM, described the couple as “the heart and soul of liturgical and musical service.”

“I’ve known them for a long, long time,” McMahon said. “And I’ve seen how they’ve contributed at the parish level, and the kind of parents and grandparents they are, the parishioners they are and the diocesan leadership that they’ve exhibited.”

Charlie Gardner has served for many years as archdiocesan executive director for spiritual life and worship and director of liturgical music. Prior to that, he was music director at St. Therese of the Child Jesus (Little Flower) Parish in Indianapolis.

Dianne Gardner currently serves as director of liturgical music at Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Parish in Indianapolis. She has previously served in similar positions at St. Pius X and St. Mark the Evangelist parishes, both in Indianapolis.

Charlie received the “Pastoral Musician of the Year” award from NPM in 1998 and twice previously chaired its board of directors. He and Dianne also co-chaired the NPM conventions held in Indianapolis in 1997 and 2007.

The leadership that he and Dianne have provided in liturgical music both in the archdiocese and beyond is rooted in their belief that such music has been “crucial in enabling the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council to take root and develop,” Charlie said.

“I believe in a Church that is both rooted in tradition and always in need of reform, and it is to that Church that I want to continue to give myself especially through the dynamic sign of music,” he added.

Charlie said receiving the Virgil C. Funk Stewardship Award along with Dianne “had special meaning because of sharing music ministry with her for so long in different places.

“We both have made commitments to the association and have been part of it for many years, going back to the first convention [in 1978],” he said.

“It was actually a little overwhelming,” Dianne said of receiving the award. “We have so much history with the organization that I could not help but think about the highs and lows we have been through, and how we have weathered it together.

“I felt a real sense of solidarity in the room during the applause. And for me, it just doesn’t get much better than that. It was wonderful to be affirmed in such a way by our colleagues.” †

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