Arlington award strikes a chord

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The National Association of Pastoral Musicians (NPM) Chapter of the Year Award was given to the Arlington Chapter at this year's annual convention July 9.

The award is given every two years to recognize a chapter for its activities, membership involvement, online communication and support from the local bishop and clergy.

Over the past two years, the Arlington chapter has partnered with its sister chapter in Washington to host workshops, liturgy days, an annual lunch and dinner and a variety of other social events that helped earn them the award.

The continued involvement of music ministers, directors and clergy from diocesan parishes and their members also has brought success to the chapter.

David Mathers, Arlington Chapter director, accepted the award along with seven other board members at this year's convention in Grand Rapids, Mich.

"We're really proud to receive this award," said Mathers. "I hope our NPM chapter can be a model for other chapters, and I hope that this award can be an encouragement to our chapter members and to all the music ministers of our diocese to attend our activities and even become chapter members, joining us as we continue to foster the art of musical liturgy."

Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde has been a major supporter of the group, attending events when he can and encouraging priests to attend events, according to Mathers.

"One of the reasons we got the award and one of the reasons for the success of our chapter is Bishop Loverde," said Richard Gibala, a previous director of the Arlington Chapter.

The Arlington Chapter of NPM was started in 1987 by Gibala, who at the time was the National Chapter Coordinator for NPM. In 2012, the chapter celebrated its 25th anniversary with a Mass celebrated by Bishop Loverde, followed by a banquet at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More.

Board member Eugene Harper will take over as the new chapter director in August, succeeding five other chapter directors - Dorothy Peterson, Patty Pulju, Gibala, Sylvia Mulherin and Mathers - all of whom have had a hand in the success of the chapter.

Harper is prepared to continue the legacy.

"We as pastoral musicians are expected to 'get it' - that is, to embrace, to understand, to promote the application of sung prayer in every liturgy," said Harper. "As chapter director, I hope to focus on promoting that with our many chapter activities through the efforts of our vibrant board of directors. To coin one of my favorite terms, we want to 'Be a Blessing' to our diocese, to our many parishes, and to our brothers and sisters who labor in the vineyards of sacred musical expression."

Raynor can be reached at

Find out more

The Arlington chapter will host their annual September Mass and dinner at Sacred Heart Church in Manassas Sept. 25 at 7:30 p.m. Visit for more details.

To learn more about the National Association of Pastoral Musicians visit

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015