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For diocesan music director, proudest moment is when assembly is singing ‘praise and thanks’ to God

Mike Bogdan, diocesan director of music, practices with the choir before the ordination Mass for Fr. Basilio Az Cuc and Fr. Jamie Dennis at St. Stephen Cathedral in Owensboro on May 28, 2016. ELIZABETH WONG BARNSTEAD | WKC


Editor’s note:The following is the second in a two-part series about the diocese’s Office of Worship and Office of Music, which assist the bishop in coordinating and overseeing diocesan liturgies and other functions. For this second installment, we spoke with Mike Bogdan, the director of the Office of Music. A story about the Office of Worship ran in our November 2019 issue.

How long have you worked for the diocese?

I’ve worked for the McRaith Catholic Center (pastoral center) for 21 years, but for three years before that I served at St. Thomas More Parish in Paducah. Working for one of our parishes was good preparation and fine formation for what I do now.

What is the largest diocesan liturgy and/or function that you’ve been involved with? The smallest?

Bishop Medley’s episcopal ordination in 2010 was the largest. The smallest are probably the liturgies at the pastoral center. 

If you asked me which liturgies are the most important ones for which I provide music, I’d answer, “The last one I attended.” Whether there are a thousand people or two or three gathered in Christ’s name, they are all significant and should receive the care and reverence required when approaching great mystery.

How much do you coordinate with the Office of Worship?

We work very closely on the primary diocesan liturgies of the diocese:  Chrism Mass, ordinations and the Rite of Election. It’s a delight working with Lauren Johnson, the new co-coordinator of the Office of Worship. She brings many gifts and talents to our work together.

How far in advance do you begin working on the music for a liturgy?

I begin about 30 seconds after I’m informed we’re having one. I’m an introvert and need lots of time to think things through.

What goes into selecting music for liturgies? Do you typically consider demographics like culture, age, etc. among the people who’ll be participating?

Certainly the most important consideration for me is the people. Who is celebrating, and what would they like to express? Who is available to contribute their time and musical talents for that liturgy, and what kinds of sounds can we produce? What scriptures are being proclaimed, what theology is being communicated in the proper prayers, and what are the elements of the rite?  

Mike Bogdan plays the piano during Mass at Gasper River Catholic Youth Camp and Retreat Center on May 21, 2015. At that liturgy, Bishop Medley would consecrate a new altar for the camp. ELIZABETH WONG BARNSTEAD | WKC

Does the bishop ever make special requests for music?

Bishop Medley hasn’t yet, and Bishop McRaith never did.

When you’re not planning the music for diocesan liturgies, what other types of projects do you work on?

There are essentially five components to the work of the Office of Music

The most important (and Bishop McRaith made this quite clear when I came and I’m sure Bishop Medley would agree) is that we serve and support the parishes. The first tool in that work is answering the phone and email and trying to provide what the musician or other person is requesting. We also provide occasional workshops and retreat experiences for musicians, and I forward information to them that might be helpful.

As mentioned above, I collaborate with the Office of Worship on the three major diocesan celebrations:  Chrism Mass, ordinations and Rite of Election.

I also assist other diocesan offices with music for their events, e.g., Sophia Awards, Marriage Anniversary Celebration, White Mass, National Migration Week, etc.

The fourth component of the office is in my budget under “Priest and Deacon Events.” Examples of this would include Presbyteral Convocation, priests’ funerals (they’re all different), Presbyteral Days, priests’ retreats and celebrations of rites leading up to diaconal and presbyteral ordinations.

The final element is ensuring compliance with intellectual property laws (copyright) for our diocesan offices and our youth camp at Gasper River.

What’s your favorite part about your role? 

Working with our talented parish musicians is a thrill.

What’s been your proudest moment as director of music?

I am always proudest when the assembly is singing. At any given liturgy, everyone around me is offering praise and thanks to the One who made them, singing about what matters most to them. What a cool job.

To contact the Office of Music, email or call (270) 683-1545.

Originally printed in the December 2019 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.

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