BY ELIJAH SIMON
As the new semester begins, the Sacred Music Program at Franciscan University has made a turn from a declining program to a thriving one.
In the early months of 2013, it was rumored that the Sacred Music Program at Franciscan University had low enrollment and would ultimately be shut down.
Not only were numbers of enrollment down, but the zeal and passion to continue the program was becoming a commodity that could not be reproduced. It was time for the program to adopt a fight or flight mentality and come to terms with a course of action.
As the academic year begins, it is evident that the decision was made.
Since that rather trying time for the program, there has been a newly invigorated approach to the continuation of the program. With the hiring of two energetic, up-and-coming faculty members with new and innovative methods by which the program would have a more cultivated opportunity to expand, more than just an attitude shift has occurred in the department.
Professor Nicholas Will, one of the new hires last year, is going into his third semester here at Franciscan.
“Our goal,” said Will, “is to integrate and foster a greater passion for the work that is done in the program.”
In a confident light, Will explained what the goals and purpose of the program are for him and his colleagues.
“We try and bring in new ideas to convey a welcoming personality within the program,” said Will. “With these new faculty changes and transformed mindset, a record-breaking number of sacred music majors are enrolled this academic year.”
Along with these majors, there was also a significant jump from 17 non majors to 40 non majors.
Although the curriculum has not changed for the program, new endeavors to animate a relationship between the sacred music program and the entirety of the student body are one of the ways Will sees the program has upgraded since previous years.
Will, who teaches five classes while also directing the Schola Cantorum Franciscana, insists that the enormous skill variety that comes as a result of the many ministry groups that affiliate themselves with the program is beneficial to all involved.
“It is no secret that music in the Church is not what it should be,” continued Will. “Here, we strongly desire to help mold students into highly-trained, professional-caliber musicians who are masters of their trade. … The program performs services in the way of performing the High Latin mass while also participating in other concerts and musical ministries.”
In this way, whether they stay, go home or even just start a group at a hometown parish, the students who come out of the program can and do directly impact the life of the living Church of God.
“Right now we are in a time of renewal,” Will said. “Church music can become a lightning rod of passion for the students. As a new member of faculty, I think an admirable job has been done up to now.”