to a sample from Dandelions
Music Helps Families Share the
Richness of the Catechism
Catholic musicians share their faith
through the gift of song. Songwriter Joanne Oberreuter has given Catholic
families a new tool for mining the riches of our Catholic Catechism. Her
children’s CD Dandelions is intended to help families explore and
learn about the truths of our faith in the home setting. Joanne’s gentle
voice and loving lyrics reinforce themes of love, prayer and devotion,
calling on elements of home life.
Songs such as “Mary, Woman of Faith” and
“Jesus, Like Water” teach vital concepts in a manner that will reach even
the youngest of hearts. Oberreuter has the ability to convey profound ideas
with a simplicity and purity of heart that are remarkable. Parents of young
children will find the CD to be a welcome addition to your Catholic music
Joanne shared the following thoughts on
her music, her faith, and her perceptions on the domestic church.
Joanne Oberreuter, Catholic musician and mother, thanks for your time and
participation in this Catholic Spotlight interview. Could you please start
off by telling us a bit about yourself and your family?
A. Thank you for this opportunity to
share about myself and my family. I am the mother of four grown children,
ages 23 to 31. Two of them are nurses (Ben and Leanne), one is a parish
music and youth leader (Daniel) and the other one is a computer program
designer (Jesse). I have submitted a photo of our family and my daughter’s
fiance, Chris, with this interview. We were blessed to be able to travel
together to Medjugorie last March and the picture was taken there on
Apparition Hill. My husband and I have been married for 33 years. We are
originally from Iowa but have lived in Washington state most of our married
life. We work in the field of real estate—my husband is a contractor and I
am a broker. I also teach a four year Scripture program in our local
parishes and lead music at our own parish.
Q: Your wonderful
CD, Dandelions, is aimed at children and families. Can you please
describe this project and why you felt it important to reach out to Catholic
youngsters through your gift of song?
A: When my children were small, another
Catholic mother who lived up the street, Mary Joyce Calnan, was raising her
children. One of her boys was the same age as mine. She and I were both
active in our parish. Years later, we both moved and lost track of each
other. Then one day I saw that she had co-authored a book, The Catechism of
the Catholic Church: Family Style. I loved the simple ways she explained
the truths of our faith and related them to family life. I wanted to write
songs that would also relate the truths of our faith to family life. I
thought that if I could put the catechism into songs children could
understand, then parents and other adults could understand them too.
Q: I have read that
you hope this project with relate themes of the Catechism of the Catholic
Church to everyday family life. How can parents work to share their love of
and knowledge of faith with their very young children?
A: Last week I was preparing a teaching
on 1 and 2 Corinthians and I read a book on the House Churches in the New
Testament. One section of the book was on the tradition in Judaism of
celebrating religious feasts and daily blessings in the home. The author
remarked that this practice was a major reason why Judaism has been able to
survive the many attacks on its existence. I have often had a speaker from
a local Jewish congregation come and talk about the feasts we read about in
the Scriptures. As he talks about the way the feasts are celebrated in the
home, my classes invariably ask about the celebration in the temples. This
is because we are use to celebrating our feasts in the church more than in
the home. He is always a bit confused and shares that the primary
celebration of most of their feasts is in the home. I think this is a
lesson for us. The intimate setting of the home is the perfect place to
teach our faith in ways our children will not forget.
In our Catholic tradition we have many
examples of ways we can celebrate feasts and liturgical seasons at home. We
have the Advent Wreath, the Jesse Tree, the Christmas crèche and the Rice
Bowl collection. All of these give us an opportunity to teach our children
about God’s plan for our salvation. We also have a very rich tradition of
having a crucifix in each room, holy pictures of Jesus, Mary or the saints,
blessed candles, holy water and the Bible placed in a visible place in our
I like to share that my own moment of
commitment to Jesus took place when I was about 4 years old. My mother was
housecleaning and had taken the crucifix from the wall to clean it. When I
asked her what it was, she stopped what she was doing and told me the story
of God’s plan for our salvation beginning with Adam and Eve and finishing
with Jesus’ death and resurrection and promised return on the last day. She
told me to never sin because Jesus loved me so much as to die for me. The
memory is with me to this day.
Everyday we should pray with our
children. I found that mealtime was the most constant time, even when not
all of the family was present. It is good to encourage spontaneous prayer
at this time as well with members bringing up any special intentions they
might have. And finally, make ample use of the family blessings with holy
water—blessing each other on birthdays, field trips, vacations, first day of
the school year and days when a family member is sick or hurt. At this
time, the messages from Medjugorie are that we should pray the rosary and
read from Scripture as a family. The mother of Jesus must know best what we
can do as families!
Q: Please tell us a
bit about your creative process, and how your own faith and knowledge of the
scripture impact upon your music?
A: I am somewhat amazed at the creative
process as I’m sure most people are. How do ideas come to us? For those of
us with faith, I think our answer points to a God who lives inside us and
speaks in a quiet voice. So, I think the creative process begins in silence
and an openness to hear what God might be saying to us. Then our own
pre-dispositions, education, personalities and spiritual awareness kind of
blend in to that inner voice. The mystery of that blend of the divine and
the human is something I sing about in the song called “Heart Talk” on the “Dandelions”
CD. The refrain is: “Could it be you? Could it be me? Are we together,
a special weave? So close together, who can tell? Your voice and my voice
in one heart dwell”.
Q: What are some of
your goals as a Catholic musician? Are you working on any new projects
you’d like to share with our readers?
In 1995, when all my children were
small, I began writing music and was published the following year by Oregon
Catholic Press. At that time I was unable to promote my music because of
the needs of my family. Now that my children are grown and I am free to
spend more time in prayer and ministry, I desire to promote a rich and solid
spirituality among young families. I think we would never have been able to
grow through our marriage and family challenges without our deep Catholic
faith. So it is my hope that I can encourage others in their marriages and
family lives to remain in prayer and in hope and to plant and water that
seed of faith in their children. At present I am spreading the word about
the family CD “Dandelions”. I have also reformatted the original OCP
cassette, “Forever: A Promise of Love” and have it now available
through Heartbeat Records on CD. That collection of songs celebrates new
life in baptism, marriage and Christian burial. The songs are poignant
meditations on the grace of God in each of these stages in our lives.
Q: Joanne Oberreuter,
wife, mother and Catholic musician, thank you again for your time and
participation in this Spotlight interview. Are there any closing thoughts
you’d like to share with our readers?
A: I would like to thank your readers
for their commitment to Jesus and the Catholic faith. I wish to encourage
them to be hopeful for our God is always present with saving graces. I,
like the rest of us, would like to see God’s actions immediately, but have
learned that it takes time to transform us all into the image of Jesus. A
song on the “Forever: a promise of love” CD says it this way: “Learn
to forgive; it takes time to live forever”. Finally, anyone wanting to
order my music can order through Heartbeatrecords.com or through a local
Catholic bookstore. Children can listen to music from “Dandelions”
on EWTNkids website.
To order Dandelions,
email Joanne at
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