Pret 2017

Ordained Deacon 2016

Maria Annoni

 Master of Arts Theology/Scripture emphasis  

 PhD Historical Music Theory  

 Master of Arts Music Theory  

 BA Music and Education  

A native of Duluth, MN, I grew up on the western shores of Lake Superior, and the sounds of the lake still call me home. I was the oldest of four girls and two boys in a very Catholic family. Catholic education, church life  and liturgical ministry played a significant role in my academic and ministerial  development: singing in the children’s choir and later the adult choir; playing the organ  for school Masses and later for parish liturgies; participating in parish youth activities of  all kinds; eventually leading the parish in the first “folk/guitar masses” after Vatican II.  

My parents believed in the integrity and wholeness of a Catholic education, making  sure all of us children attended parochial schools, elementary through secondary,  although my sister and I were the only ones who continued with a Catholic college  education. They also gave all of us children the opportunity to play musical instruments,  with the piano always the starting point. An accomplished musician as a child, I began  playing the organ at mass by the time I was 10 years old, adding singing and playing the  guitar as a young adult. My playing the organ for church was really no big deal. I was  asked to do it since I was taking piano lessons at the time, and “Sister Mary ______”  thought of me when the parish organist had quit or died; I don’t remember which.  

When Vatican II was revolutionizing the Church during the late 1960s and early 1970s,  I thrived on liturgy and liturgical music. I reveled in the musical and liturgical changes at  the time—the physical change in the worship space, the inclusion of the assembly,  liturgy spoken in the vernacular, more scripture at Mass and other liturgies, an openness  to ecumenism—and a far- reaching, radical idea of possibly, just possibly, allowing  women into the priesthood. My gifts as musician, vocalist, keyboardist, and guitarist,  eventually inspired me to create music in many venues all of my life: teaching people of  all ages the wonders of music; singing in choirs of all kinds; playing guitar for a variety of  events, large and small, locally, nationally, and internationally.  

I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music and Education from the College of St.  Scholastica, Duluth, MN 1976, a Master of Arts in 1982 and a PhD in Historical Music  Theory in 1989 from The Ohio State University and a Master of Arts in Theology with an  emphasis on Scripture from St. John’s University, Collegeville MN, in 2016. Although I  did my graduate education in music theory at a very large public institution, I returned  many years later to a Benedictine institution for my Masters in theology at St John’s, in  preparation for priesthood.  

I never entered the convent. However, I always maintained close relationships with the  Benedictine sisters of St. Scholastica who taught me, with whom I worked and taught  school, and who embraced me as one of their own. I did contemplate joining them  because I tended to follow the “Ora et labora” of the tradition, but in the end, I found  that I couldn’t. At first, I surmised that I had “obedience” issues, but later on I realized  that something or someone else, was beckoning me to expand my horizons. Who  would have known that my obedience was to be “prophetic.” The Benedictine sisters  showed me how to be imaginative, creative, and autonomous. They taught me to be  strong and to stand tall. That inspiration led me to explore the world far beyond my  place of birth and young adulthood in Duluth, MN.  

I have been a leader in training liturgical musicians, parishioners, and priests, in the  implementation of the philosophy and tenets of Vatican II. I have been a liturgical  minister for well over forty years—in parishes, and campus ministry. When I was  attending graduate school at Ohio State, I was the Assistant to the Music Director at St.  Thomas More Newman Center at the university where I planned music for liturgies,  assisted in planning liturgies, played guitar, was a cantor and a full-time Director of  Music and Liturgy in the Roman Catholic Church for twenty-one years.  

After eleven years at St. Thomas More Newman, Ohio State, I returned to  Minnesota to become Director of Music and Liturgy at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in  Grand Rapids, Minnesota, the second largest parish in the Diocese of Duluth, MN. It  was a full-time salaried position that required me to plan all liturgies, direct the choir,  the small ensemble, and all the instrumentalists. I assisted with and served as a  resource for all school liturgies. I trained cantors, organists, Communion ministers, and  lectors; and guided priests, especially the new ones, through the inner workings of  liturgy.  

The goal was to involve as many parishioners as possible in the liturgy and parish  celebrations. Tenets of Vatican II—liturgy, new ways to use worship space, spiritual  opportunities for all, and hospitality to everyone who entered—were valuable  

components of our parish life. When the parish realized that the old church building  made this difficult to achieve, the decision was made to build a new facility (worship and  administrative spaces) in a new location. In 2000, the new St. Joseph’s dedicated its new  space and invited the entire city and region to come and celebrate. What a glorious  experience. I retired from that job because, after 21years of dedicated service, I was  forced out because I am LGBTQIA+.  

My prophetic call to priesthood hit me over the head at one of my trips to Call To  Action in Milwaukee. I volunteered to play and sing for a couple of the liturgies. One of  those was the RCWP Mass. It was there that I met the soon to be ordained Martha  Sherman. We spent a lot of time together, along with her partner and mine. At an  RCWP presentation, the speaker asked who in the audience has ever thought about  having a call and becoming a priest. I found myself standing with several women. My  partner was totally shocked, but Martha Sherman said, “I knew it!” Shortly thereafter, I  inquired, applied, and started attending RCWP events and ordinations, even playing for  ordinations. I realized that my call was right in front of me all the time. Because of the  Church, that call could never be fulfilled. As a director of music and liturgy in the  institutional church, I was as close to being a priest as I could be in the Church, but with  RCWP, I knew I would be able to take my rightful place at the table of service to the  community.  

After I was accepted in to the formation program and completed the preparations, I was ordained a deacon on August 6, 2016, at Holy Wisdom Monastery, Middleton,  Wisconsin and a priest on May 7, 2017, in Sartell, Minnesota held at the First United  Methodist Church and I currently serve the Spirit of Christ the Healer Catholic  Community in Grand Rapids, MN as its pastor.  

As I have developed into a priest and pastor of a community, I realized that all my  life experiences—academics, teaching methods, liturgical skills, and musical expertise  have come together to form a prophetic spirituality enabling me to serve people with  compassion, justice and equality, joy and hope. None of these suddenly appeared; they  gracefully emerged. 

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