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Outreach through liturgy: Sister Jeremy Gallet

Kawai's_toy_piano-webFor 16 years, Sister Jeremy Gallet has worked as the director of the Office of Worship at the Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon.

Sister Jeremy, a Chicago native, entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Providence in 1963.

From a very musical family, Sister Jeremy has always been involved with music. She started as a music teacher and eventually moved on to serve as a music minister at several parishes. She plays piano, guitar and has sung in choirs since age 8.

She has a bachelor’s degree in music education (from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College) and two master’s degrees, one in music education and one in theology and liturgy. She holds a doctorate in Liturgy and the Arts from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.

Throughout the years, she has put that degree to good use, serving as the diocesan director of liturgy in the Diocese of Corpus Christi, Texas, and in her current position.

“This is a very interesting ministry. No two days are the same,” Sister Jeremy said. Reaching out
to both laity and priests is a key element in her position.

Gallet_Jeremy-webWith her strong music background, Sister Jeremy utilizes music when it comes to liturgy – especially on the diocesan level.

“We look at the nature of a particular celebration, consider the people who will be attending, and decide how best to facilitate their participation. That really has an impact on the music we choose,” she said.

“You have to have familiarity with the people who are going to attend. Planning music well so that people can participate: that’s an act of hospitality. Besides that, we have to consider what languages are appropriate to the celebration. In this diocese we primarily use English, Tagalog, Vietnamese and Spanish.”

There are many other aspects to liturgy, including education. This is something Sister Jeremy would like to have more time to implement with the people of the diocese – both for folks in the pews, and the professionals who are pastoral associates, liturgy directors, musicians and others who work in parish ministry.

“You have to keep up with the latest things,” she said. “I go to national conferences and constantly check with the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) to keep up with changes and new regulations. You also have to stay in constant contact with your bishop. However giving workshops and teaching classes are parts of this ministry I most enjoy doing.”

In her position, she frequently receives phone calls from parishes inquiring about the correct way of doing things. She tries to be readily available to give advice or help.

“People call with questions and I try to answer them. “They have questions about what is the proper thing to do on a particular day or time. Many times I have to look it up myself!” she said.

Lately, Sister Jeremy has been busy. She said she has worked on three ordinations (one of a new bishop), two major diocesan-wide adult confirmations and two Memorial Day masses, all in five weeks.

“We’ve had so many celebrations,” she said. “And I’ve been busy planning those. I plan the music with the cathedral choir director then make sure I have the ministers we need. If the Mass or celebration includes different languages, I set that up. It’s gotten a lot more intense and inclusive in the last several years.”

“Our cathedral is the parish church of the archdiocese. When people come here to celebrate they frequently experience a sense of awe and have a better sense of the church as much wider than their small parish communities. They love coming.”

(Originally published in the Summer 2014 issue of HOPE magazine.)

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Jason Moon

Jason Moon serves as media relations manager for the Sisters of Providence. Previously, he spent more than 16 years in the newspaper industry.

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