Patricia Smith, who lives in Sydney on Darug and Guringai country, describes herself simply as a Catholic from birth with a deep love of the Eucharist. She sees herself primarily as a homemaker, a writer and a musician. Liturgical music is her way of serving her community, as a choir director, keyboard player and composer. She has composed a multitude of psalm settings and songs for liturgy available at Willow Publishing. Her love of liturgy and her strengthening call to ministry led her to a Master of Arts in Theological Studies. Patricia is also a wonderful communicator and story-teller, producing a gorgeously wise blog about a wombat. She welcomes opportunities to share her faith more with others.
Two years ago, she was asked to contribute to a paper about women and diaconal pathways. Patricia reflected on her liturgical ministry, which enables people to participate and live their baptismal calling. Here is what she shared:
“What does God want me to do?
As a liturgical musician, a lot of my work is with children. The central driving force for this work is to make a space in the liturgy and the Church for children where they can participate and where their baptismal right to be active as full members of the Church is respected and facilitated. Central to this is the catechetical side of having a children’s choir in my care: explaining the Gospel, and the liturgy, listening and discussing the hard questions, teaching them about forgiveness and caring for each other.
With the Senior choir the work is different: listening and sharing life experiences, welcoming and inviting people who have been active in the Church for a long time to continue to actively give in some of the ways that are still open to them: providing music, being a supporting presence at parish funerals, leading and being a reliable, constant support at liturgies.
When I play at Mass, the work is different again: assisting the people at worship; opening out the Gospel and the homily with songs that resonate with the message they have heard; encouraging people to sing and bringing the liturgy alive. When I direct music, it’s about encouraging community, leading and listening and helping people to do their best, for their own sake and so that the Gospel is better proclaimed.
Being a deacon has much in common with this work, that it is essentially and inescapably pastoral. A vocation of listening, walking through the Gospel with people, caring for the people of God as a shepherd. Making Christ more easily visible in the liturgy and the sacraments. Teaching through word and action. Making way for the less advantaged, helping their voices to be heard. Serving in whatever way I am called to. In fact, it’s not a question of what I want to do but what God wants, and as Bishop Anthony says, that’s as simple as asking God every day, ‘What do you want me to do today?’ And the answer that God wants me to be a deacon is plain and unequivocal.
Patricia Smith 30th November 2019”