Rory Cooney writes “This House That Love Has Made” for St. Thomas More Parish
By Steve Taranovich, T.O.Carm.
I spoke to Steve Raml, our Music/Liturgy Minister, who holds the Liturgical aspects of music as paramount in his ministry here at St. Thomas More (STM). I wanted to get a feeling for how our parish song came to be.
Raml sat down with the Liturgy committee to decide how they would want to celebrate our 20th anniversary as a parish in a special way. One suggestion was to commission someone to write a song specifically for STM.
He reached out to an accomplished composer, Rory Cooney, to write a parish song that would reflect our parish mission statement. Raml knew him quite well, since Cooney spent several years in our diocese with 11 years serving as director of liturgy and music at St. Jerome Catholic Community in Phoenix. Also, many of the people who are now part of our parish were previously a part of St. Jerome’s. Raml says that if someone would know us best as a people at STM, it was Cooney.
Cooney accepted and the first question Cooney had for Raml was ‘Tell me about the Ethos’ at STM; essentially, what is STM really all about at its core. Raml went on to highlight some of those things, after asking the parish staff as well.
When the church was dedicated 15 years ago, Father Jim always talked about the use of the second reading from the First book of Peter about ‘building yourself into a spiritual house, you who are living stones”—Raml wanted to include the idea into the song that the Church is the people. Living stones is mentioned in the first line of our parish song.
Raml also asked if there was a way to incorporate the parish Mission Statement, “Growing in faith; acting in love”. We see that in verse 3, “How beautiful to grow in faith and act in love together”.
Cooney also incorporated the other images that Raml wanted; that of a Church that really believes in Gospel values, such as welcoming the stranger and reaching out to those in need. Those values were also incorporated in our song. Social justice is very important, says Raml, as well as the liturgy. That’s why we have Pope John XXIII on the west side of the rear of the church. He is holding in his hand the document, Sacrosanctum Concilium, the first document out of Vatican II, and it dealt specifically with the Mass; the liturgy itself and the sacraments are important to our community at STM. There is a line in our parish song, ‘…water poured and broken bread. Remember Christ among us’—Baptism and Eucharist. Cooney masterfully incorporated all of these into our song.
Mr. Cooney is a skilled liturgist and parish music director in his own right. His music expresses a deep reverence for the text as well as a lively concern for the practical needs of the parish.
October 26, 2017