Oddwalk Ministries

prayer

Thank You, Fr. Frank

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This past Friday, our parish lost our pastor, Fr. Frank Bussmann. Late on Thursday night, after spending Thanksgiving with his family, Fr. Frank headed for home.  He only managed to get about ten minutes down the road before he suffered a massive stroke behind the wheel, causing him to crash his car. Luckily, no one else…

NCYC Is Special. Here’s Why…

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This past week, Orin and I had the great privilege of serving in a variety of roles at the National Catholic Youth Conference in Indianapolis. For much of Thursday, Friday and Saturday, he and I were on a dead-run hosting the Music and Message Stage, leading music at two Masses, and even getting to do…

The Joys of NCYC

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It’s that every-other-year time again: the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC) is almost upon us. This is an amazing event of several great joys. Here are just a few:

1) Seeing 25,000 youth gathered in one place from all around the country (and beyond) is an amazing sign of the universality of the Church and a great witness of hope to our Church now and into the future;

2) Having even passing-in-the-hall moments to greet our peers in itinerant ministry is always a blessing;

3) This year we have the joy of ministering at 2 Masses, and partnering with the NFCYM in creating a new venue at NCYC, the Music and Message Stage. We’re very excited for this opportunity. We’re also grateful that we get to have our first moments on the MainStage in Lucas Oil Stadium – both to announce the new venue (in hopefully comedic fashion) and to offer a prayer and song of blessing over the youth ambassadors at the conference.

We’ve posted a graphic below in case you need to know where to find us at NCYC. Please some say hello and add to the joy of just a great event of faith! —Orin

A Matthew 25 Kind of Readiness

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I don’t know about you, but when I think about Jesus, I prefer to think of sinner-pardonin’, loaves and fishes multiplyin’, ear-healin’ Jesus.  It makes me uncomfortable to think about table-turnin’, Peter-scoldin’, Gehenna-throwin’-into Jesus.  Jesus is supposed to be nice, right? Surely a God who loves us wouldn’t ever turn us away, right? RIGHT?! Well,…

Living The Justice of the Sunday Scriptures

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Hi all. Shannon and Orin both are contributors at anygivensundayproject.org once or twice and year, and in fact have back-to-back reflections on the Sunday scriptures there right now. Orin wrote a bit about yesterday’s challenging Gospel passage, and Shannon wrote about this coming Sunday’s readings. We’ve posted theme here as well. But, keep visiting anygivensundayproject.org…

Sir We Would See Jesus

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I started writing songs in 1995, when I was twenty years-old. I truly had no idea what I was doing, of course. I knew I liked the challenge of creating something new, but lacked any real knowledge of poetry and/or music theory. In those days, I would simply write the best song I could and…

Are You God?

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School is back in session at the parish where I, Orin, am music director. Sometime near the beginning of each school year, we gather the entire student body, PreK-8th Grade, in the Church to go over some music that we’ll be using at some upcoming Masses; that day this year was this past Thursday afternoon,…

We’re writing a book!

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Hey everyone! Shannon and Orin are excited to announce that… wait for it… we’re writing a book! If you had not guessed from the title of this post, seeing some news on social media that led you here, or from this super-cool graphic, we’ll say it again – we’re writing a book!

It will be published next July by Twenty-Third Publications, a division of Bayard which specializes in books and devotionals for nourishing your spirituality and celebrating the liturgical year, as well as the newest resources to help you lead and guide your parish community.

Our book has a working title of “Praying and Living the Faith Through the Year” and is a collection of twenty interactive prayer services on various Church themes and celebrations as well as other special times during a school year. Each service has suggested music, prayers, scripture, and interactive, prayerful activities to help bring faith to life. While the “target audience” for this book is middle-school-aged youth and those that minister to them, this collection should also be useful for other ages, as well as other situations, like youth ministry and family units.

Here’s the rundown (for now) on “chapters” the resource will have:

• Welcome to Teachers/Staff/Students (Community)
• For Grandparents (Generations, Wisdom)
• At a time of tragedy (Consolation)
• All Saints (Communion of Saints)
• All Souls (Deceased Family and Friends, Tradition)
• Thanksgiving (Gratitude to God)
• Christ the King (Dominion, Sovereignty)
• Advent (Waiting in Joyful Hope)
• Immaculate Conception / Guadalupe (Mary, Dignity)
• Christmas (Incarnation)
• Discipleship (Learning, Following)
• Before an Exam (Peace, Assurance)
• Ash Wednesday (Repentance)
• Lent (Returning to God, Conversion)
• Holy Week (Suffering, Obedience, Cross)
• Easter (Resurrection, New Life)
• Mercy (Divine Mercy)
• Ascension (Church and Our Mission)
• Pentecost (Holy Sprit, Gifts of the Spirit)
• At Graduation (Transitions)

Each chapter will also include some introductory material from us, for those putting together each service.

We feel this resource will pull together strongly many aspects of Oddwalk’s varied ministries – storytelling, humor, prayer, music, retreats – and hopefully be a welcome and successful resource for many folks helping to lead the young Church on their journeys to and with God.

Watch this space for more updates, especially as the project gets closer to completion! We can’t be more excited to be working with 23rd, and can’t wait for you to be able to hold this book in your hands – and use it!

Joy at NPM

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Hi all, Orin here, continuing his usual busy summer of acronyms: a couple weeks ago was YSP, this week is the annual convention for NPM, National Association of Pastoral Musicians.  (Next week is another YNIA which Shannon and I will do together, Shannon already told you about one of those.) Anyway, yesterday was travel day, which is why this Jesus-Justice-Joy post is a day later than usual.

Just as YSP brought me a certain joy (which a tired me told you a tiny bit about in a video), every year NPM brings me a joy as well. While of course I am a church music director in addition to my Oddwalk fun, I’m here this week also as a composer of music for the Church as well.

Here’s a photo from the exhibit hall last night of a book from GIA that both Shannon and I have songs published in, called Crossgeneration.

 

Knowing it’s selfish mostly, it does bring me a bit of joy to see that music that I and Shannon have written in print – but beyond my own ego, part of that joy is it being still available to the wider Church to help them pray in song. (I hope to sneak photos of other octavos in print with WLP and OCP later today!)

Another joy this week is being able to reconnect in person with so many other composers I have gotten to know over recent years. There is a certain fellowship and camaraderie in that particular group of people, with a particular ministry to and for the Church.  Here are a few of us out to dinner last night, photo credit to Kate Basi.

 

Sharp eyes will see my wife Erin in the photo. Another joy is being able to spend a chunk of this week with her, taking a little personal time here and there to just be us, away from home and most of the responsibilities and worries there.

All of these joys are rooted in Christ and my faith in him.  It is Christ who gathers, who forms community, and gives us talents to praise him in song.  St. Augustine purportedly once said that “The one who sings prays twice.”  If so – and I think that’s right – there’s a whole lotta prayin’ goin’ on in Cincinnati this week at NPM.  Thanks for reading!  —Orin

What the Ascension Tells Us About Social Justice

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Note: a version of this post originally appeared at Any Give Sunday Project two years ago. If you’re a regular church-goer, you surely know that the pews are at their fullest on Christmas and Easter. No surprise there. Take a moment and see if you have a guess what the next two most attended Church…

Common Ground

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A couple weeks ago,  I (Orin) was happy to again attend the Liturgical Composers Forum here in St. Louis, to rub shoulders with composers both quite familiar, newly-published, and all places in-between.

Orin and Cyprian

Each year there is a different presenter for the group; this year’s was Cyprian Consiglio, a composer who is also a priest and monk. He has a hidden gem of a piece in the original Sprit and Song volume, an adaptation of “As One Unknown.” It details the many ways Christ can appear before us, emphasizing in its added refrain the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

Cyprian has more recently travelled extensively through Asia and brought his knowledge and passion of other world religions to his presentations and music he shared with us at the LCF. One of his talks highlighted how different religions approach Jerusalem, both physically and spiritually (symbolically), emphasizing our common ground.

The LCF week most always propels me into writing new music, and this one is no exception. My mind and heart has been pondering, leading up to this reflection on justice, how Christ appears before us in the vulnerable, oppressed, and homeless, and how all peoples share some amount – likely a large amount – of common ground, all made in the image and likeness of God.

While the music is well on its way, it’s not quite done yet. However, I *think* the text is done, and I’m happy to share it here with you today. Let us pray that what connects us to one another is stronger than what tries to divide us.

Common Ground – by Orin Johnson ©2017

REFRAIN
We all share a common, holy ground,
we all share the hope, the promise
of the One whose image is inscribed upon our souls.
We all share this holy ground.

VERSES
The earth that we walk on is sacred.
Out of nothing this world was made
by the One who said, “Let there be…”
bringing forth all things, day by day.

The flesh we inhabit is sacred.
We are filled with the breath of life
from the One who took dust and clay,
forming living souls, humankind.

The lives that we share here are sacred,
lives of justice, of holy peace.
But the One who orders all things
places love as greater than these.

The whole of creation is sacred,
All that was and will ever be.
For the One who reigns from on high
chose to make himself small, came to dwell among all,
and remains till all is complete,
and remains till all is complete.

Scheduling Jesus

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A day or two in the life…

This here is a great example of my wife Erin’s sense of humor: very sharp and not at all afraid to throw in a well-placed cuss word. Also, to answer her question, Erin knows A LOT of things I don’t. She’s very smart. That’s another blog entry, though.

In this case, the thing I knew was that I needed to prepare to write this blog article. Part of that preparation was creating a full day, week-long event entry last week, called “Jesus”, to remind me to pay more attention to where I encounter our Lord in everyday life. Erin didn’t know that, though. I hadn’t had time to tell her that I was writing an article, that Orin and I were planning to try and write something every week. There just isn’t enough time these days for Erin and I to talk about things that aren’t absolutely essential to helping our family function well.

The Cernekas, you see, are a very busy family. In addition to my work with Oddwalk, I work full-time for a parish and school. Erin works full-time as a nurse practitioner in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. She also runs a craft business, making headbands, bows, t-shirts, etc. Erin and I have four kids, ages 4-12. The older three are all involved with sports and scouting. The youngest is in pre-school and is preparing to take over the world. I suppose I made that last part up, but when it happens, don’t forget you heard it here first. In addition to all of this, Erin and I try and share our musical and ministerial gifts as much as time and resources will allow. This means leading music for Mass, helping with retreats, and doing what we can to support our local diocesan youth and vocation events. It’s safe to say we have burned the candle at both ends and have ordered more candles.

All of this brings me back to that screen shot of my calendar. While I look to grow in Christ each and every day, I meant that calendar entry to be purely functional, something to help this article deadline not be just another well-intended goal that slipped through the cracks. Yet as I look at it now and think about the craziness that is my life, it occurs to me that I could use something like that. Every. Day. Maybe you could too. While I work for a Catholic institution, go to Mass regularly, pray, and take more than a passing interest in my Catholic faith, I know full-well that I often do not place Christ at the center of my life, at the center of my decision-making, at the center of my family. So, this coming week, I’m committing to spending extra twenty minutes with Jesus. Ideally this will be in church, but I know Jesus will be there for me wherever I am. I know twenty minutes isn’t much, but it’s something. Jesus shouldn’t be just another calendar entry. Jesus has to be everything.

What about you? How are things between you and JC? Is there room to improve that relationship? Ok, that was a trick question. Of course there’s room. There’s always room. What kind of time and space can you commit this week to strengthening that relationship?

-Shannon

NCCYM 2016 Videos

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This past weekend, Oddwalk was invited to take on several roles that exemplify the things we find important in our ministries, at the National Conference on Catholic Youth Ministry in San Jose, California.  We are grateful for these opportunities, whether it’s leading prayer, encouraging audience participation, making people laugh, or commenting on our retreat ministry.  Here are a few videos of those moments.

 

First, here we are, with Shannon’s wife Erin, singing a prelude before the Saturday morning mass, a piece by Orin titled “To Know Darkness,” published by GIA Publications and on our “Walk Away Different” CD.

 

Next, here we are talking a bit about our retreat ministry at a “Great Ideas” session later that day.

 

But a highlight for us of these NCCYM weekends is the “Youth Ministry Extravaganza” — a chance for folks like us, who “do what we do,” to thank the youth ministers (and others) in attendance and hopefully feed their souls through, among other things, humor.  We relish the chance to create original “set pieces” for this night (previously “May God Bless and Keep You,” “Songs We Should Never Record” and others); this year, thanks to an idea from our friend Erin Brennan, we created a segment where we pretend to be covering the Games of the XXIII Liturginerd Olympiad.

 

For a couple extra “goodies” related to the Liturginerd Olympics, click here! Thanks San Jose and the NFCYM for a great conference, see you next year at NCYC!