It was my privilege this past Saturday morning to attend and perform at the Golden Jubilee Celebration of Sister Karen Pozniak, a Sister of the order Notre Dame de Namur. Sister Karen is a member of the Colchester Community Chorus, and has been a nun from August 14, 1960 to the present. This was a celebration of her 50 years of service; I was amazed, stunned and moved at what I saw and heard Saturday morning, and it got me to thinking………..
Before the service began, Sister Karen briefly and modestly spoke, and the first thing she said was that her life had been about a “calling” and about “commitment.” This was the first thing that I heard, and it was the first of many words that morning that struck me as important and worth mentioning here. In the middle of the service she once again renewed her vows of 50 years ago; I think that part of those vows are worth repeating here….
“God of Goodness, in response to your love for me, I renew the vows I made at my first profession in the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. I, Sister Karen Pozniak, seek to consecrate myself entirely to you and to live the Gospel by my vow of poverty-living simply and respecting the gifts of creation; by my vow of chastity-witnessing to your love in my life by a compassionate love for all people; by my vow of obedience-living with a listening heart to your presence in my life as I seek to respond to the needs of the poor in our world. May the Holy Spirit, the fidelity of Mary and the example of St. Julie inspire me to live these vows in a spirit of service and joy. Amen”
There is something about the above that I find very moving and inspiring Not only because Sister Pozniak is a very, very special woman that has committed her life to her work, but because there is an inherent wisdom and truth in these words that bears witness by all of us. When Sister Karen spoke about the words calling and commitment, and than later spoke these words, I could not help but think of choral directors that love what they do and have a strong desire to share that love through their work on the podium, in front of choirs throughout the world. With just a few changed words in the vows above, it could be a vow of commitment by choral musicians to their work. OUR work is indeed a calling, and it takes true commitment and dedication to stay the course, expose our singers to quality music and to share the deep and penetrating love we have for the choral art. We, also, are in a genuinely unique situation to teach our students THROUGH this art form to respect the gifts of creation, to love others, to be compassionate and to respond to the needs of our students and singers.
Our profession is indeed a calling, and wouldn’t it be fitting if we were required to somehow take “vows” upon our graduation from college and our bursting upon the choral scene, whether it be church, school, college, community or some other place.
And so it is that I wish you all the power to do great work this year; to inspire in our work as Sister Karen has in hers. To respect those that we work with and for, and to commit entirely to our life’s work. And through our music to inspire love and commitment and dedication as we also listen and respond to the needs of our singers. In many ways our work is most inspiring, and most important, and we had ‘ought not to forget that as we move into the concert season and do our work.
My best wishes go out to all of you for a successful year of making music……