Archdiocese Local Ministries Parishes

Workshop for parish musicians, liturgists kicks off the fall

by Katie Peterson
Special to The Leaven

“[Speak] to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord” (Eph 5:19).

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The office of divine worship of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph and the office of liturgy and sacramental life of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas will co-sponsor the “Skills and Spirituality: United by Faith” workshop on Sept. 28 at Nativity of Mary Church in Independence, Missouri. The respective chapters of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians on both sides of the state line are also sponsors.

“[This workshop] dates back to the late 1990s when Steve Obarski, the former head of the KCMO office of worship, started the event as a goal to assist parish musicians and liturgists to develop not only their musical skills, but also to hone in on the importance of spirituality in ministry,” said Dr. Mario Pearson, event coordinator and diocesan music director of Kansas City-St. Joseph. 

The program went on hiatus in 2007, but Pearson rekindled the biennial event in 2017. 

“In my role as a parish musician, I noticed how far our music programs grew apart,” he said. “Building and rekindling strong relationships [between our dioceses] was a great need.”

The event, which will run from 7:45 a.m. to 2 p.m., was planned by Pearson and an eight-member steering committee and will include guest speakers and two 50-minute breakout sessions. The breakouts will cover a variety of topics, ranging from music directors, choirs, cantors and chants to instrumentation and youth ministry. 

 “Most workshops focus on honing one’s abilities in church music, whether that is in leading a group or participating in one,” said Matt Winterhalter, steering committee member and breakout session leader. 

“While these sessions will address some technical or “skills” aspects of the ministry, it is the spirituality side that is being emphasized.

“Being a cantor is not about being a soloist performing for the congregation,” he said. “A choir member is more than just another voice in the crowd. 

“The accompanist for Mass inspires confidence in a singing congregation. Defining each role as a ministry is the goal.” 

Winterhalter said all the presenters are experts in their respective fields. 

“Our presenter for cantors has attended numerous national workshops on cantoring, and our presenter for small parishes works with rural churches in the Archdiocese of Omaha,” he said. 

“And who better to lead a session on chants than a monk that practices the art daily?” he added. 

Pearson said the workshop is a good way to start the upcoming year. 

“September is the time when parish choirs and music restart full steam after the summer break,” he said. ‘This is a great time to enhance and reinforce the role of ministers. 

“The opportunity for growth, collaboration and support is key to continue building our parish ministry programs. Our faith is a relational one and, along with the theme ‘United by Faith,’ we have an opportunity to gain more insights into our roles as servant ministers.”

How to register

Preregistration is $20 for adults and $10 for high school students and is due Sept. 13. Same-day registration is $25 for adults. Fees include breakfast and lunch. Visit the website at: to register.

About the author

Katie Peterson

Katie Peterson attended Xavier Catholic School, Immaculata High School and the University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth. She majored in English and minored in music. Katie joined The Leaven as a freelance writer and photographer in May 2017. Her favorite assignment, though she’s enjoyed them all, was interviewing her dad, David, in 2017, after he completed his 100th shadowbox rosary, which he has been making as gifts since 1983. Katie’s full-time position is as reporter for the Fort Leavenworth Lamp newspaper.

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