John Romeri’s situation in Philadelphia, briefly commented here, gets rehashed again and again. If I were in John’s shoes, it would be time to say, “Enough, already.” Followed by “No flippin’ comment.”

I have little more to say about the specifics, but more general stuff about hiring a parish music director. It’s a tough hire, even for a pastor who knows his church music. The interview stage is the time to sort out whether music director and priest are on the same page philosophically.

Tell the whole truth …

Speaking for myself, I tell the blatant truth during the pre-hire stage. And I hope the pastor does, too. One guy I interviewed with once said he and the parishioners like shorter Masses. He limits his preaching to six minutes and expects two verses of hymns going in and out. Sunday Mass should be fifty-three to fifty-five minutes. Great. But not the parish for me.

I will tell a pastor I run a loose ship. I will give people a chance. I will take a risk. I’m forgiving of mistakes. I’m not rigid. I don’t view the good as the enemy of the perfect. Stuff like that. They take it from there.


Sometimes things change. It’s good for employer and employee to be on board with this. Bishops have directives. Father has attended a workshop. The music director has a new initiative. These things can get talked out. And if the two people can’t talk about the ground shifting under someone’s feet, then it’s generally a matter for the employer to take charge. The boss should be communicating first.

When the music people have to speak  up …

I think there are times when the church musician needs to alert the administration when things aren’t going well. When gossip pops up. When intermediates have to filter bad news.

And sometimes, a faith community is due for a change. I have no inside info on John Romeri and Archbishop Chaput. Nor do I want any. Sometimes, it’s better to part company. Some priests can tolerate a lot in a music director, and some musicians can tolerate a lot from a boss. Sometimes, it gets to the point where the energy expended in toleration would be better put to use elsewhere. All you can  hope for is that the people involved are telling the truth.

It would be a sad situation if a diocesan music director knew of a bishop’s preferences and tried to “educate” him anyway. Or if a bishop just waited for somebody to change who clearly wasn’t intending to change.

As for me, I don’t think John Romeri’s entry into the job market has made it more difficult for me. I suspect we are chugging along on different tracks. I certainly have no interest in a Big Music position in a cathedral. I know my limits and abilities as a church musician, a liturgist, and as a pastoral person. And I have to remember: be grateful, and tell the whole truth.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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1 Response to Rehash

  1. charlesincenca says:

    I would have deleted the last paragraph.
    Let’s prioritize. I’m working for my third pastor in 23 years. Don’t you think, under any other various circumstances, that if “the new boss (ain’t) the same as the new boss” (credit The Who) he’d have some obligation to do his homework on his upcoming crew, ID those of whom he has doubts, and then respectfully have done a Ben Franklin “plus/minus” calculation, and should a staffer add up to a negative, provide the staffer with an opportunity to know what the new boss wants? Sure, matters personnel are sacrosanct in catholicland, but it’s difficult to see how Romeri could have erred if he wasn’t informed of the new terms of play. This is one more regretful “lose-lose” in our little corner of the world.

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