National music educator to offer liturgical workshop in Pearl

By Mary Woodward
The diocesan Office of Worship and Liturgy is sponsoring a retreat-style conference entitled “Liturgical Music: Ministry Encounters Mystery” for liturgical music ministers, clergy and LEMs, June 8 – 9, at Pearl St. Jude Parish. The presenter for the experience is Alexis Kutarna, director of music for St. Mary Seminary in Houston, Texas.

Alexis Kutarna

Born and raised in Canada, Kutarna has been involved in church music ever since she was a child. Kutarna earned the Master of Arts in Liturgy at The Liturgical Institute at the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary, where she wrote her thesis on “The Sacramental Nature of Sacred Music.” She holds master’s and bachelor’s degrees in music, as well as a performer’s certificate.
Kutarna has a special interest in the spirituality of liturgical music, and was privileged to study chant with Fr. Columba Kelly, OSB. She has served as a parish music and liturgy director, working with singers of all ages.
In a letter to parish leaders and musicians, Bishop Joseph Kopacz remarked: “In my travels around the diocese, I have experienced some wonderful liturgies with all kinds of musical offerings. This retreat experience will help affirm and broaden our parish musical horizons.
“Everyone from the novice to the most accomplished will benefit greatly from this conference. It is meant to inspire us to grow more deeply in our understanding of the divine mysteries and the unique and sacred role music plays in that mystery,” wrote the bishop.
“More deeply inspired and thoughtful liturgies based in our rich spiritual and theological tradition give us the fuel to embody and live the Gospel and proclaim it to others.”
Frequently asked to speak on music and the liturgy, Kutarna presents in a variety of contexts, from parish choirs and retreats to lectures and conferences. She has presented on seminary musical formation, the spirituality of chant, liturgical participation, and singing the Mass, including at the 2016 NPM convention.
She teaches the Summer Learning Schola for the St. Basil School of Gregorian Chant. In April of this year, she spoke on music and heaven at the “Transfigured” young adult conference in Chicago, hosted by the Liturgical Institute.
Kutarna teaches courses on the liturgy and liturgical music at the University of St. Thomas for the seminary, the permanent diaconate program, and the master of sacred music program.
The retreat will incorporate prayer, instruction, reflection and interaction. It is designed for those who actively engage in music ministry on the parish level. It also is designed to benefit clergy in additional knowledge of the role of music in the liturgy.
Retreatants will enjoy a journey into the sacred mysteries and gain a better understanding of their ministry as musicians in the liturgy. Topics for reflection include: Mystery and Liturgy, Mystery and Silence, Mystery and Music and From Mystery to Ministry. Though the retreat will be in English, resources for Spanish and bilingual Masses will be a part of the retreat.
As a prayer experience, the Liturgy of the Hours will be sung throughout and there will be a session on practical applications during the Mass.
The tentative retreat schedule will begin with check- in at 1 p.m. on Thursday, with overview and first session beginning at 2 p.m., and run until 9 p.m. Thursday night; it will begin on Friday at 8:30 a.m. and end with Mass at 4 p.m.
Cost is $60, which includes three meals and materials. Participants must make their own lodging arrangements. For more information contact Mary Woodward, chancellor, at 601.960.8475 or
(Mary Woodward is the chancellor and coordinator for the Office of Liturgy.)