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Catholic Mom Music Spotlight

Joanne Oberreuter
Dandelions

Listen 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 collection.

Joanne shared the following thoughts on her music, her faith, and her perceptions on the domestic church.

Q:  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 homes.  

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 oberreut@pacifier.com

 

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