Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Essential Christmas Gift in the Year for Priests

Christmas at Ephesus The Benedictines of Mary Queen of the Apostles are a traditional monastic community whose purpose is to pray for the holiness of priests and for vocations to the priesthood. They were invited to Kansas City in 2006 by Bishop Robert W. Finn and their prayers have led to an abundance of priestly vocations in Kansas City. The number of sisters is growing by leaps and bounds as well and most of them are young enough to get carded (not that they have the opportunity).

The sisters support themselves by making vestments and with their angelic voices. Their first CD, Echoes of Ephesus, sold 60,000 copies and included original compositions – one written specifically for Bishop Finn. This year they have a Christmas CD. Proceeds from the CD go toward building a monastery for the sisters. Take a listen to some samples from the CD below the story and you’ll be convinced you and your friends need to own this. You’ll be adding to the prayerfulness of your Christmas, contributing to the holiness of priests, fostering new vocations and building a monastery, all for $20.

New Christmas music CD recorded by Benedictines

By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Reporter

KANSAS CITY ― Although you just looked out the window and saw people in T-shirts and shorts, the Christmas season is drawing near. Pop the new “Christmas at Ephesus ” CD by the Benedictines of Mary Queen of Apostles in the player, close your eyes and you are transported to a stable on a snowy night in Bethlehem . Crystalline voices, woven harmonies, and medieval chants bring that first Christmas into the room.

The Benedictines of Mary Queen of Apostles are still new to the Kansas City Catholic community, invited here by Bishop Robert W. Finn in 2006. A traditional monastic community of women who desire to emulate the Blessed Virgin Mary by living in quiet seclusion at the Priory of Our Lady of Ephesus, encouraging, praying for and supporting priests, they are a joyful group who sing while at work, at prayer or at play.

Last year the sisters recorded their first CD, “Echoes at Ephesus ,” described by the prioress, Mother Therese McNamara, as a window into the life of the community. “People didn’t know about us,” she said. “But since that CD, they’ve been bringing us their prayer requests, for priests and for vocations, and priests have been coming to us for retreats.”

They recently broke ground for a new monastery near Gower. The proceeds from the Christmas CD will go toward that building plan. The sisters have been encouraged by the success of the CD released last year. Nearly 60,000 copies were sold or given out. For this recording, the sisters began with 60,000 copies. Their music and charism caught the attention of Ian Byrne, a Kansas City businessman and lead singer for the local Irish band The Elders. Through Byrne, the sisters connected with Steve Phillips, a recording engineer and musician with the band. With his assistance, the CD was recorded at Conception Abbey, where the acoustics are just right. Production costs were reduced by packaging the discs in cardboard cases.

Mother Therese is pleased with the results. “A lot of the arrangements are our own,” she said. “We recorded a fresh translation of Silent Night from the original German. One of the sisters did the translation and another set it to music. The church’s organ was broken so composer Franz Gruber played the accompaniment for Stille Nacht on his guitar.”

Some of the songs are familiar carols; others are original compositions by the sisters. Almost every day, one of the sisters is inspired to write a song, Mother Therese said. “We’re not professionals,” she said. “We just love to sing.”

The CDs, Christmas at Ephesus and Echoes of Ephesus, can be purchased for $20 online at the community’s website.

An audio player will pop up when you click on the little play button to the left of the title:

For Love of Me

God Supreme I Know Thee

A Babe, So Tender

The First Nowell

Buy it here.

The Sisters’ first CD is also still available. A second CD purchase is only $15. Here’s the cover and a couple of sample tracks from the first CD.

My Mercy – Written for Bishop Finn

Domine Non Sum Dignis

Both CDs available here.