Catholic Pastoral musicians gather for national conference

By Fiona Dyball, 21 October 2019
Speakers during the Listening to Youth session at the Australian Pastoral Musicians Network National Conference. Image: Australian Pastoral Musicians Network/Facebook.


The largest gathering of Catholic Pastoral Musicians in Australia was celebrated at the Catholic Leadership Centre in Melbourne from October 1-3.

The Australian Pastoral Musicians Network (APMN) National Conference is hosted biennially in a different Australian state and celebrates and supports the work of Catholic pastoral music ministries in liturgical, catechetical, youth ministry, school, hospital, prison, community, diocesan and parish settings.

The conference theme, Listen to the Spirit and Sing, aligned with Australia’s Plenary Council 2020 theme.

Expert presenters offered keynotes, workshops, showcases, and over 45 dynamic breakout sessions to over 330 participants from all over Australia and New Zealand, covering a wide range of topics and musical genres. These were framed by beautiful Morning Prayer sessions, a commissioning ceremony, and a joyful Conference Mass celebrated by Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli, Archbishop of Melbourne.

Keynote presenters, Dr Tony Alonso and Diana Macalintal from the United States, covered such topics as Becoming what we sing: liturgical reflections from the heart of Pope Francis; Liturgical participation: how we learn the true Christian Spirit; and Becoming leaders of sung prayer.

Both Tony and Diana are accomplished musicians, composers and liturgists, as well as gifted communicators and empowering teachers. Both are widely published and have worked extensively in youth ministry, in diverse parish communities, and in a range of multicultural settings.

Sr Deirdre Browne IBVM and Roger Heagney OAM were honoured at the conference dinner for their outstanding service to liturgical music in Australia and four scholarships were awarded for young pastoral musicians to further enhance their skills and training in Music Ministry.

The scholarships are named after Rev Dr Russell Hardiman and Rev Dr Bill Jordan, who were both dedicated to the renewal of the Church and liturgical music, as envisioned by Vatican ll. Recipients of the scholarships this year were Emma Fradd (QLD), Cecilia Jackson (NSW), Patrick Shannon (VIC) and Dominique Laban (NSW).

Another of the highlights of the conference was the Listening to Youth panel discussion. The APMN has a special focus on supporting young people to take their place in the church, and to enhance their love of the liturgy and pastoral music through excellent training.

The next APMN conference will be held in 2021 where the keynote speaker will be internationally acclaimed pastoral musician, Bernadette Farrell (Christ, Be Our Light). See the APMN website and Facebook page for regular updates and more information regarding the 2021 conference, and for local and state-based events. Membership of the APMN is open to all.

To find out more about the APMN and to sign up for conference notes from the 2019 conference and others, please visit

Fiona Dyball is a member of the National Liturgical Music Council.

By Fiona Dyball. Republished with permission from Melbourne Catholic.


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