Diversity the Tempo at NYC Parish

HNP Communications Around the Province

his is the eighth in a series of articles about music ministries of Holy Name Province. The previous installment in the June 29 issue featured the music program at St. Anthony Shrine in Boston.

NEW YORK — The music ministry at New York City’s Holy Name Church is just as diverse as the people who come to the parish. Featuring a healthy mix of traditional and contemporary music, including hymns, anthems, solos and antiphons, the diverse music styles promote growth through the liturgy.

“Holy Name’s diversity on so many levels, something only possible perhaps in New York City, keeps my work interesting,” says Peter Adamczyk, the parish’s music director for the past 13 years. “There is always something new to engage with each week.”

Keeping liturgy interesting is what Holy Name’s music program is all about, according to Daniel Kenna, OFM, pastor.

“Thanks to my predecessors, the music ministry here at Holy Name has been one of the premier ministries of the parish for more than 20 years,” said Daniel. “With many volunteers and professionally trained musicians collaborating under Peter’s direction, the ministry enables our parishioners to become fully involved and invested in the liturgy. As a result, our celebrations are lively and spirited and draw newcomers continually our way. The ministry reflects the cultural diversity of Holy Name. And when you combine for major feasts, our traditional and contemporary choirs, our children’s choir, our Haitian and African choirs, I dare say there is no greater sound in all of Manhattan.”

Historic Organ
The cornerstone of the music ministry is an almost 75-year-old pipe organ. While the historic instrument can only be played several times a year, because it’s showing signs of its age, says Adamczyk, the organ is recognized around the world. “I frequently receive letters and requests for invitations to hear and learn more about the organ. These requests come from around the country, as well as from Europe and Asia.” When the organ is played, about 15 percent of the time, parishioners always enjoy it.

Parishioners can also influence the music. Masses, says Adamczyk, are programmed with a feel for the time of day and for the community. Suggestions from parishioners often inform the programming, which also contributes to the musical diversity.

Music is an important part of preparing people for liturgy. “Liturgical music draws people into the moment and prepares the mind and heart to accept word and sacrament,” says Adamczyk. “It also fosters community and a sense of shared experience, and has the power to go across space and time in this regard. This can help provide an awareness of a much larger community of believers.”

Five Diverse Choirs
There are five choirs and a cantor ministry at Holy Name. The traditional high Mass choir, the contemporary come-as-you-are choir, the Spanish, and the Haitian choirs sing weekly, and the African choir sings once a month. There is also a youth music ministry.

Parishioners and visitors especially look forward to special music at annual services, including the Christmas Midnight Mass, international carols, the Tenebrae and Good Friday services during Holy Week, and Easter Sunday. “The New York Times routinely requests that we send them our program lists each year.”

Adamczyk came to New York City in 1998, from music programs in Illinois, Texas and upstate New York. For a period in the 1980s, he was music director of Resurrection Parish in Wayne, Ill., which was administered by the Franciscan friars of the Assumption BVM Province. He says that his years in music training and experience, combined with a knowledge of languages and diverse music traditions, have made for a successful career.

Adamczyk sees his role as enhancing parishioners’ faith through music. “Everyone comes to Holy Name Church essentially for the same reason,” he says. “It is part of my responsibility as music director to help bridge each music tradition to the larger church community.”

This spring, the Holy Name Province community was treated to the multi-cultural music of Holy Name Parish; the ordination of two HNP friars was held at the Upper West Side Church on May 21.

— Wendy Healy is a freelance writer based in Connecticut.