A mass for the masses

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The Mass of Saint Joseph is not only the culmination of a decade-long dream, but a gift offered to the Church in thanksgiving. Photo: Mathew De Sousa

For the parish of Saint Joseph of Moorebank, this year dedicated to its patron has been particularly fruitful.

From the formation of a Schola to the installation of a new shrine, parishioners have been inspired to see their ideas come to fruition through the intercession of their saint.

The year ends on December 8, but not before Somascan Fathers Mathew Velliyamkandathil CRS and Chris De Sousa CRS have received a final gift in the form of an original Mass in honor of Saint Joseph titled ‘Patris Corde’ ( ‘With the heart of a father’).

“The Year of Saint Joseph was basically how God told me: ‘You have promised to write this Mass for years, now is the time”. “

The Mass was created by Ric Mills, a Moorebank parishioner, an award-winning independent film composer in the classical tradition, who has worked alongside a plethora of international directors, producers and conductors.

Ric began his professional music career at the age of 13 and has always had a deep love for sacred music.

“It is beautiful, inspiring and when the repertoire is sung with heart and passion it can go back hundreds of years to the time when religious experiences were in their most raw and perfect form.” , did he declare.

“The music, which has endured because it is seemingly simple and accessible, has greatly influenced my own work.”

The Mass was created by Ric Mills, a parishioner from Moorbank, an award-winning independent film composer in the classical tradition, who has worked alongside a plethora of international directors, producers and conductors.  Photo: Mathew De Sousa
The Mass was created by Ric Mills, a parishioner from Moorbank, an award-winning independent film composer in the classical tradition, who has worked alongside a plethora of international directors, producers and conductors. Photo: Mathew De Sousa

Although St. Joseph’s Mass saw its completion during the last lockdown, Ric had spent the past decade growing in inspiration with the desire to compose a mass setting himself.

“I think I designed the theme of the Gloria in 2010, when I composed a motet for my daughter’s baptism, where I was fortunate enough to have it at the service sung by the adult singers at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney, ”said Mr. Mills .

“His letter begins ‘with the heart of a father … this is how Joseph loved Jesus’, and this is the central message of the music of this Mass.”

“The theme stuck with me and I kept wanting to make it a piece of music one way or another, one day.

“During the second confinement of 2021 and in the year of Saint Joseph, the impetus came and with the gift of the Holy Spirit the Mass of Saint Joseph was born.

“The Year of Saint Joseph was basically how God told me: ‘You have promised to write this Mass for years, now is the time”. “

The original music setting for the Mass was composed in honor of Saint Joseph entitled “Patris Corde” (“With a Father's Heart”).  Photo: Mathew De Sousa
The original music setting for the Mass was composed in honor of Saint Joseph entitled “Patris Corde” (“With a Father’s Heart”). Photo: Mathew De Sousa

The Moorebank musician found much inspiration listening to popular mass service arrangements by well-known Australian and British composers.

Unfortunately, taking inspiration from complex sets such as Howells and Stanford’s Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis was problematic.

“The challenge became clear from the start of trying to create something ‘changeable’ but also not so basic that it sounds pedestrian,” he said.

“I wanted to create a work that would be inspiring but also accessible to the average parish so that it could be used as far and as wide as possible.

“This is largely why the music is written for piano only and purposely presented in a ‘playable’ way for an intermediate musician, with simple but beautiful harmonies optional on the final phrases.

“I think the end result is a very memorable Mass which hopefully inspires spiritual commitment, connection and prayer.”

With his last work dedicated to Saint Joseph and in celebration of his year, it is clear that the foster father of Christ had a great presence in Ric’s life.

“Ric found it difficult to be so far from his family and turned to St Joseph for support and stability, which was achieved within his local parish community.”

Father of two daughters, Ric was greatly moved by Pope Francis Patris Corde, the apostolic letter of the Holy Father for the Year of Saint Joseph.

“One of the most profound and meaningful experiences of my life is being the father of my two daughters Matilda and Charlotte,” he said.

Ric Mills has struggled to be so far from his family and turned to St Joseph for the support and stability that has been achieved within his local parish community.  Photo: Mathew De Sousa
Ric Mills has struggled to be so far from his family and turned to St Joseph for the support and stability that has been achieved within his local parish community. Photo: Mathew De Sousa

“I feel this bond with my children, a bond that only the heart of a father can feel, so the words of Pope Francis Patris Corde really holds the essence of how I feel about my children.

“His letter begins ‘with the heart of a father … this is how Joseph loved Jesus’, and this is the central message of the music of this Mass.”

The Mass of Saint Joseph is not only the culmination of a decade-long dream, but a gift offered to the Church in thanksgiving.

“Saint Joseph’s Church has truly become a very full and flourishing church and I wanted to thank the Somascan Fathers for making this sacred and living space of communion with God.

It honors a parish community whose support has contributed to the development of Ric’s faith and family life.

Arriving in Australia in 2005, RIc left behind his family and friends in England to join his wife Priscilla.

Ric found it difficult to be so far from his family and turned to St Joseph for the support and stability that was achieved within his local parish community.

“I came [to St Joseph’s Moorebank] pray and worship for a few years before Sr. Anne asks me to play Mass with Father Graham, ”he said.

Ric Mills’ work expresses his gratitude as well as a deep love for St Joseph’s Moorebank and his work. Photo: Mathew De Sousa

“Since then, St Joseph has supported me spiritually in a way that I cannot express in words.

“Saint Joseph’s Church has truly become a very full and flourishing church and I wanted to thank the Somascan Fathers for making this sacred and living space of communion with God.

“I think this work expresses gratitude as well as a deep love for the church and its work.

“I wanted to create a work that would be inspiring but also accessible to the average parish so that it could be used as far and as wide as possible.

Ric has since sent copies of his Mass to various publishers in hopes of having it distributed and printed so that it can be used in churches across Australia and the world.

A sample of the The lord has mercy, sung by Moorebank parishioner Robert Ianni, can be found at www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRxYD398aO4

For parishes wishing to use mass, they can contact directly at [email protected]

Ric spends half of his time composing music and the rest of my time managing his music academy (Octave8) in Moorebank and surrounding areas.

If you are looking to learn to play from a beginner level or need advanced training in the instrument you have chosen, you can find out more on the Octave8 website at www.octave8.com.au

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