Sewickley church program introduces children to mix of music, prayer
Praying with his 3-year-old in a group setting outside of a regular church service is “a pretty powerful thing,” Matt Carroll of Leetsdale said.
He and his daughter, Maggie, are among more than a dozen families who participate in the Making Music Praying Twice program that began last month at St. James Catholic Church in Sewickley. This is the first time the national program has been held in the Pittsburgh area.
“It's a relaxed atmosphere,” Carroll said. “Maggie thoroughly enjoys it.”
He said a parent-child connection is highlighted in some songs, and children interact with one another and have fun. About 20 children take part in the program.
During class, participants sing a hello song to each other, kneel and pray to a Virgin Mary statue and a picture of Jesus and sing prayers and other songs.
They play instruments such as drums, a triangle, maracas and bells along with a different recording each week, and take part in large-movement activities with scarves, streamers or a parachute.
Songbooks, CDs, downloadable sheet music and other materials are made available.
Instructor Caitlyn Waruszewski, a music, band, and religion teacher at St. James School in Sewickley, said the class uses “parent modeling” to get children involved through imitation and observation.
“When parents sing and enjoy making music, the children are more willing to fully engage in the class, which allows them to reap the full benefits to increase their musical ability,” she said.
The 10-week curriculum has been designed to echo themes found within the Catholic church season and readings cycles. The fall session occurs during Ordinary Time and Advent, Year C, and songs will reflect themes found in Scripture during those times.
A Christmas music day will be held Dec. 15.
The program, which began at St. James Parish in Basking Ridge, N.J., about four years ago, has expanded to dozens of parishes in other states.
The name includes the term “praying twice,” because St. Augustine has been quoted as saying, “He who sings, prays twice.”
Kate Daneluk, the program's founder, said, “St. James is our first Western Pennsylvania program. Another is starting up later this year in Robinson” although she didn't specify where. Training sessions for teachers are scheduled soon in Maine and New Jersey, to expand the program to more parishes, she said.
Waruszewski is a former licensed Kindermusik educator who became a licensed Making Music Praying Twice instructor in August. She said she was called to start the program at St. James after reading about it.
“I thought it would be a great tool to bring the school and parish together,” she said.
The Rev. Thomas Burke said he is excited to offer the program at the church.
“Music is a pathway to God,” Waruszewski said. “I am blessed to be able to bring little ones and their families to the Lord through making music.”
Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or firstname.lastname@example.org.