Prayer garden honors music director’s legacy

Geraldine Biggs McGrath is pictured in St. John Baptist De La Salle’s new prayer garden named in her honor alongside Father Robert Milbauer, pastor, on the occasion of her retirement as music director June 29

St. John Baptist De La Salle in Granada Hills dedicated a new prayer garden honoring Geraldine “Gerry” Biggs McGrath, who retired after 60 years as parish music director June 29.

The sixth of eleven children of the late organist and composer Richard Keys Biggs, Gerry became De La Salle’s music director soon after graduating from Mount St. Mary’s College in Los Angeles in 1951 with a Bachelor of Music degree in choral conducting.

Gerry formed her first parish choir out of the post-war G.I.s and young housewives who made up the community of the growing San Fernando Valley. With her late husband of nearly 55 years, Herbert McGrath, Jr., she raised seven children while continuing to lead music ministry over six decades. She counts her pastoral ministry work with the choir at De La Salle as her most treasured musical accomplishment.

Among her other accomplishments are: first lay woman to teach at the Los Angeles archdiocesan seminary of Our Lady Queen of Angels; appointee to the Los Angeles Archdiocesan Music Commission; founding member of the National Pastoral Musicians; and recipient of the Papal Cross Pro Ecclesia Pontifice medal from Pope Benedict. As a soprano soloist for many weddings, liturgies, concerts and funerals over the years, Gerry “has been the soundtrack of the milestones of life for countless Catholics and non-Catholics alike,” noted daughter Noelle.


Voices

‘Digging a well together’

Father Ronald Rolheiser, OMI

Christian de Cherge, the Trappist Abbott who was martyred in Algeria in 1996, was fond of sharing this story: He had a very close Muslim friend, Mohammed, and the two of them used to pray together, even as they remained aware of their differences as Muslim and Christian.  

Aware too that certain schools of thought, both Muslim and Christian, warn against this type of prayer out of a sense that the various faiths are not praying to the same God, the two of them didn’t call their sessions together prayer. Rather they imagined themselves as “digging a well together.”

 

 

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February 1, 2015

  • Sunday, February 1

    Third Order Lay Carmelite Community Q & A Meeting, 1-4 p.m., St. Jane Frances de Chantal Church located at 12930 Hamlin St. North Hollywood. The Order is located throughout the Los Angeles area and open to new membership.  If interested in the ancient tradition of contemplative prayer, community and service, come and have your questions answered.  For more information, contact Regional Director Herman Briones, (818) 521-6564.

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