KOSTEL P. MARIE: Jammin' for the Lamb at 3rd and Deleglise!

Late last semester, I walked into the TV room located on the Priory's 4th floor to find Father John Bostwick watching a new DVD -- seeing the VCR counter indicated that he was less than five minutes into the flick, I decided to stay for a while. John paused the show for just a moment to indicate that he was watching episode one of "October Road;" he also filled me in on the plot -- a guy returns home after having been away for 10 years since his high school graduation. He assumes he can simply and effortlessly fold back into the lives -- including the lives of his best friend as well as his girlfriend -- which he left abruptly in the summer that followed his graduation.

Interesting stories unfold which not only cause the main actor to consider his life 10 years ago, but one major storyline will keep him in town much longer than he had bargained for.

I did not want to hold John's DVD set hostage by borrowing the series, even though I know John would be most accommodating. Further, I had a pretty busy conclusion to last semester; thus, not knowing when my schedule would intersect with John's, I decided to go out to Best Buy and purchase the series -- many of you know that I have a pretty large collection -- watching DVDs is my easy way to relax at the end of the day, often at 1:00 in the morning.

The series is quite wonderful, although the setting is much more recent than my experience in 1984 when I left home after my Antigo High School graduation. Nevertheless, the parallels -- the feelings -- that are made manifest in this series are perhaps general enough that anyone can relate to the joys and the complexities of returning back to one's childhood home to be reunited with friends after a long absence. I found the "product description" to October Road quite mesmerizing when I read the following:

"As much as many adults yearn to "go home again"--to return to the place of their childhood and somehow magically return to a simpler time of close friendships and few responsibilities--the inevitability of change ensures that that homecoming will never be as simple or Utopian as it seems."

Doesn't that ring true for you in as much as it does for me? ....Or the main character in October Road?

This summer I will be returning to Antigo for my 25th high school class reunion. While I am sure that I'll be surprised by all that I learn about my friends as we begin to catch up on our lives since the diaspora -- many of whom I have not seen since my 10th reunion -- I suspect the events of my life might surprise my classmates as well.

Seeing the reunion invitation on the corner of my desk for several weeks now, my mind has been taking a bit of a trip down memory lane. For the most part, I've been thinking about the years spent at Antigo High School -- 1980-1984. While recalling so many events, I find myself cranking the 80's tunes on my ipod -- our Saint Norbert students hear me playing the music in my college office day by day. Many will actually ask for the name of the song or the artist -- even Travis VandenHeuvel, our SGA President, secretly loves the music. He won't admit it, but when he cracks a bit of a smile, you know he's hooked! The music helps the memories of the 80's float to the surface.

But given many of my students actively involved in OSJ parish ministry are currently involved in Praise and Worship sessions at our church, my mind also ventures back to the 70's, which enables me to consider my grade school days at St. Mary's. As a young elementary student, my classmates and I never knew what happened just a few years earlier to our grade school experience. Beginning in 1972 and ending in 1980, our Catholic grade school experience occurred at the conclusion on VATICAN II; we did not and could not appreciate the changes that the Universal and Local Church were going through in those days that "opened the window" of the Church to the world. Back then, our school community gathered for Daily Mass each Monday, Thursday and Friday and once a month on Tuesday. Wednesdays were devoted to the Stations of the Cross or Marian devotion -- depending on the month.

Today my students know that their Praise and Worship sessions employ music that is not necessarily liturgical or congregational -- as such, these sessions take place outside of the Mass. But back in the 70's, the new "contemporary" or "folk" music was introduced to us youngsters during the Mass.

This week I stumbled upon such music!

I was doing a search in the iTunes store, submitting the name "Ray Repp" and can you imagine what I stumbled upon? Here's the hit list that was introduced to us kids by Sr. Peggy and Sr. Celine -- continued by Sr. Mary Michael. You folks who are 40 something from St. Mary's and across America, remember these?:


Hear, O Lord

How Long, O Lord

I am the Resurrection

Into Your Hands

Of My Hands

Peace, My Friends

Shout From the Highest Mountains

Till all My People are One

Wake Up, My People


Take our Bread -- by Joe Wise

I shared this music at Norbertine recreation the other night with Father John, Father Tim Shillcox and Father Al McBride -- one of the best times we've had in a long time -- singing, remembering, cherishing, making fun... ... ... I could only imagine what would happen if I would ask my Old Saint Joe's choir director to consider adding these songs to our repertoire. My current students would think that I've gone over the edge -- quickly! And yet, it was for me not necessarily a trip down October Road, but down 735 Deleglise Street in Antigo. There's the hope that my writing about this here will allow folks like Rory Gilbert and Ann Brehm a similar preparation for our 25th.

And just when life doesn't get better, the unthinkable happened!

Doing a Google search, I found the completely and totally funky "Our Father" that we would sing on high solemnity feasts. I simply typed: "1970's Rock Our Father" and I found it: the Our Father created by Sister Janet Mead which we would sing with the pipe organ [with foot pedals] cranking out the percussion. Remember this?


I remember us choir folks pleading for the Sisters to allow us to sing this groovin' song during school or weekend Masses. We sang it rather sparingly, if I can remember, but the funky sound seemed to match Father Stencil's techno-color clerical shirts -- back then sporting a contemporary look in yellow, gold, green, light blue, royal blue, purple, white, red or orange -- just about anything but black!

Those were the days! It seemed to fit back then -- certainly met with glee from the kids from St. Mary's -- and similar churches throughout America, I suspect. Actually as young kids, we knew nothing different! Today? A totally different Church -- the experimentation seems to be over, but the Praise and Worship continues -- albeit in a different setting apart from the Mass.

Earlier this week, I posted images of Jody Foster -- an age-mate -- starring in "Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys." Given my age, this seemed like a more realistic and timely trip down Memory Lane which featured growing up in Catholic grade school in the 70's. And yet the description of October Road seems to haunt me as I look forward to the reunion this summer:

"As much as many adults yearn to "go home again"--to return to the place of their childhood and somehow magically return to a simpler time of close friendships and few responsibilities--the inevitability of change ensures that that homecoming will never be as simple or Utopian as it seems."

And yet, Summer 2009 will be wonderful, I suspect, whether or not the music cranked at Nick's or the Northstar includes the playlist offered above. The music is just the backdrop -- what counts, truly, are the relationships that are rekindled after so many years. "There's no place like home:" I trust this summer's events will prove that reality. Until then, John, take note: season 2 of October Road is released on May 5th! ...My treat!


Anonymous said...

That was a nice trip down memory lane for me -- thanks Jimmy... errr, Father! I can still remember the words to some of those songs and sing out loud, but your memory is much more vivid than mine. Thanks for the flashback. And even though you dodged my fb request to be my date -- I'm so glad to know you'll be at the reunion this summer... don't disappoint me this time! Hugs. -AB (your BF since 3rd Grade)

Anonymous said...

July 25!!!!!

What a chorus that will be when they'll all sing "Happy Birthday, dear Jimmy" !!!!!!

Hmmmmmm, wonder who planned that date?


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