Modesto Classic

Ran my 5K today. My goals were to run the entire race without stopping to walk and come in with a time of no more than 35 minutes. Mission accomplished on both fronts. There were many, many times that I wanted to stop running and just walk for a bit. I was bargaining with myself constantly! But in the end, I ran the whole race. My time was 33:46.1. I’d like to do the next one in under 30 minutes.

It was nice that there were several of us MJC types out there. Me, Vee, Tonya, Donna, Rita, Erik, and Laura.
Good job to all of us!!

Here are a couple of photos.

Me and Vee before the race.
Modesto Classic 5K 004

Me and Tonya.
Modesto Classic 5K 002

My race results.
Modesto Classic 5K 005

Hafla shots

A few photos from last night’s hafla.

This is Jodie. I don’t think she knows how beautiful she is.
Hafla 1103.25 - 75

Burning Sky Musicians
Hafla 1103.25 - 57

Addie. Very colorful.
Hafla 1103.25 - 42

The lovely Sierra.
Hafla 1103.25 - 30

He’s not strange. He just wants to live his life this way.

It’s been a few days, so I wanted to give you some of my thoughts/reactions/reflections about the Archbishop Tutu event.

Today, I will talk about the structure and flow of the event itself.

The event began a few minutes late and I suppose they must have been having some problems backstage because there were awfully long pauses between the different parts of the program.

First on the bill was President Loewenstein to welcome and introduce the evening. He made a couple of humorous remarks about the tension and issues that we’ve been experiencing over the past week or two. I thought he handled it well.

Next was a dance performed by members of the MJC Off-Balance Dancers. Ok. I am the first to admit that I don’t get dance. I certainly didn’t get this one. I don’t think I’m the most cultured guy in the world, but neither am I a Visigoth. Rather than go on and on about the dance, I’ll just say that it came across at pretty pointless. Was it supposed to be telling a story? Conveying an emotion? Making me squirm and look at my watch? Well, it only did one of those things.

Then we had a set of songs performed by the MJC Chamber Singers. They sounded good, but I couldn’t understand the words they were singing. And they knew that the words were unintelligible because they made a point of reading the texts of the songs after they sang them. So, pretty harmonies but boring performance. Hey, I was a music major. I sang in Chamber Choir. It was BORING. It’s much more fun to sing in 4 or 8 parts than it is to listen to it. Yeah, there are people who love listening to choral music. I’m not one of them. For me, this was more pointless filler before we got to the good stuff.

Finally, we arrive at something that was interesting. MJC professor of English and slam poet, Sam Pierstorff, had composed a poem for the occasion. I always enjoy Sam’s poems and especially his delivery when he performs them. He prefaced his poem by making a simile. Ubuntu, a person is a person through other persons, was like the Kevin Bacon connection. It was analogous to the way that an actor is an actor due to his relationship to Kevin Bacon. His specific example: Elvis Presley was in Change of Habit with Ed Asner, who was in JFK with Kevin Bacon. Therefore, Elvis has a Bacon number of 2. Sam went on to say that in 2009, Kevin Bacon emceed an event at which Desmond Tutu was the keynote speaker. Therefore, the Archbishop has a Bacon number of 1 and because we were all in the room with him tonight, we could claim a Bacon number of 2! Haha! Very amusing! (Although I would quibble with the conclusion. I would say that those who appeared on stage can make the claim, not those of us in the audience. But it was all in jest anyway.) Then Sam performed his poem. I would reprint the text, but it’s so much better to see/hear him perform it. So I won’t.

The next thing that was supposed to happen was a video tribute to the MJC Television/Film department Archbishop Tutu. But instead, the man himself came out on stage. He spoke for 45 minutes or so; I really wasn’t paying attention to the time. He had a nice delivery, somewhat slow paced, and was frequently amusing. He used a lot of biblical references and talked a lot about God. The last 10% 5% of his speech was about the evils of defense spending, about how global warming is a fact (a FACT, mind you), and fossil fuels are bad. Well, I feel that with these points, he strayed off message a bit. But I’m certain many others will disagree.

After the Archbishop was done speaking, President Loewenstein came back to thank everyone for attending. But before he got to the podium, the video started! Oops!

Part II tomorrow.


It is deathly hot here in Modesto. Yesterday had a high of 109 and today is forecast to get up to 112.

Every year during this open house to hell, I start thinking of moving out of the Central Valley. And so it is that I am looking at options for a cooler clime.

For years, I’ve dreamed of moving to Vancouver, BC. But as I was thinking about it today, I realized that this is too big a hurdle to jump. As I’ve mentioned before, I am entrenched in my inertia. The very idea of moving is contrary to my nature. The idea of moving to another country… well, unless I work up to that sort of thing, it will never be more than an idea.

So then I was thinking, Seattle. Lots going for it. A friend of mine lives in Portland and she suggested that I would enjoy living there. So now I am looking into the idea of Portland. It may be that this will never be more than an exercise in imagination. To be a reality, I would need to secure a job and housing before I went up there.

How to do that from here?

Letter to Fr. Arouje

Fr. Arouje,

I wanted to express some of my ideas for music ministry here at St. Stanislaus. I have been involved with music ministry for over 20 years, serving at a number of parishes throughout the diocese, including 5 years as Music Director at St. Anthony’s in Hughson.

Ideally, I would like to see the following:

• One person overseeing the music for all Masses and celebrations of Sacraments (including weekends, weddings, funerals, baptisms, confirmation, etc.).

• A commitment to a common repertoire for the entire parish. I do not think it is a healthy thing that the various Masses can be so distinct and even different. We are one parish and people should be able to participate in the singing no matter which Mass they attend on any given week. There is some room for options but 85% of the music we sing at the parish should be from a common repertoire.

• We should be selecting music that reflects the seasonal nature of the Church calendar.

• In selecting music, we must adhere to the principles the Church gives us. Music must pass the Musical Judgment, the Liturgical Judgment, and the Pastoral Judgment. One or even two of the three of these is not sufficient. It must pass all three. And appropriate music from all times in the Church should be used. The best of what was composed hundreds of years ago, to what’s being written now, and everything in between, so far as it passes the three judgments.

• Music that is selected should be done so with the intention that there will be congregational singing. Occasional choir anthems or songs that are to be listened to but not sung by the congregation may at times be ok, but they are not the norm.

• Recruiting of musicians should be not for any one group, but for the parish.

• (I could go on, but these are enough.)

If for whatever reason we cannot, at this time, find an appropriate person to be the Music Director, I think that the current set of musicians should work as a committee to select music and plan for the seasons. We need to start planning for the time when we will have fewer Masses each weekend which in turn will mean, perhaps, fewer musicians will be needed. As we anticipate people from the six English Masses we have now being mixed together in as few as three or four English Masses after the new church is built, it is important that we be able to ‘hit the ground running’ once we make the move to the new building.

I am willing and eager to serve God, the Church, the ministry of music, and the people of God as we move forward over the next several months and years and I look forward to working with whomever is hired.


Seán Fornelli

Director of Music – Who will it be?

St. Stanislaus Parish is looking to hire a Music Director. I would be interested in the job myself except they want someone who will be full time and also direct the band at the youth Mass. Neither of those things suits me so the job is for someone else. I am curious about who we will get. Will it be a traditionalist who thinks that nothing suitable has been written since the death of Palestrina? Or perhaps a modernist who believes that all the music for Mass should be as current as the songs on the radio? More likely than either of these, the person will fall somewhere in between. But where?

I have a friend that would make an excellent candidate except for the fact that he is living and pursing a lifestyle that is totally incompatible with serving in a leadership capacity in the Church. There are some in the parish that would overlook my friend’s public and well-known indiscretions because he is talented. This guy is my friend but if he gets the job, I will have to stop doing music and may have to leave the parish. I will not help him to mock what the Church believes, professes, and teaches.

What I want is a musician who believes, as I do, that good liturgical music from all eras should be represented. From compositions by Bach, to hymns of the 1800s, to the music that was used in the 50s, to Glory and Praise selections, the music of Haugen, Haas, Farrell, Hurd, on through the music that is being written today. The Church gives us three judgments with regard to the music that is selected:

  1. It must be good music. We musicians will disagree when it comes to this but a director is, by the nature of his position, in charge.
  2. It must be liturgical. This is the biggest problem I have with so much of the music that is done at LIFE TEEN Masses. Also why I won’t do Marian hymns on most Sundays of the year.
  3. It must be pastoral. In other words, is it right for these people at this time? This third point seems to be what youth Mass types hang their hats on. But we cannot ignore any of the three judgments. If a song only meets two of them, it should not be used.

Well, I look forward to working with whoever is selected. Or at least making the attempt.

Sean, in a nutshell

So let’s start by sharing some things about me.

My name is Sean. I live in Modesto, CA. I work at Modesto Junior College in the Office of Instruction. I am 37 years old at the time of this posting and I think I’m starting to feel my age. I have an Associate’s Degree in Music and hope to complete a BA in History before the turn of the next century.

My Roman Catholic faith is very important to me and I play guitar and sing for church every weekend and have done so (off and on) for almost 20 years.

I have a dog named Chloe who is way smarter than me. I wish I were inclined to be more active, if only for her sake.

Instead, my time is mostly spent playing on the computer and watching television. I play World of Warcraft and Lord of the Rings: Online. In a future post, I will talk about the shows I record every week.