Thanks to Danielle Rose

Guest post by Allison 
A few weeks ago, my friend Andy introduced me to Guido D’Arezzo, the Benedictine monk who invented modern musical notation by creating the four-line staff.Then Andy, who founded our parish’s Chant Club and has a master’s degree in medieval literature from the University of Notre Dame, read my post about Guido, including my dismissive remarks on the theologically suspect, “folksy religious songs of my Catholic childhood.” And Andy had another lesson for me.

He and his wife are nearly two decades younger than Greg and I. We are products of the well-meaning and sometimes misguided reforms of Vatican II and I call their generation the “JP2 babies”—unafraid of orthodoxy, unabashed in their faith.

Andy told me he believed folk music can have a place in Catholic worship—if its lyrics reflect orthodoxy. He told me about a folk musician he and his wife had known when they were students at Notre Dame: Danielle Skorich, whose professional name was Danielle Rose.

Last month he placed a Danielle Rose’s CD, called “Mysteries,” on top of our TV in the family room. There it sat, unplayed until Sunday night.

Sunday afternoon at Chant Club, Andy yet again mentioned the two-album CD, which is a series of musical reflections on each of the rosary mysteries. He encouraged me to at least listen to the song on the Transfiguration, given that it was Transfiguration Sunday.

I spent late Transfiguration Sunday evening listening to Danielle Rose’s album on my laptop. In her liner notes, Danielle Rose says she was inspired to produce the album in response to Pope John Paul II’s October 2002 letter introducing the Luminous Mysteries to the rosary. The album, in a wide range of musical styles, reflects on all 20 mysteries of the rosary.

As someone who spent endless hours as a teen alone in my bedroom listening to Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez records, I was transfixed—yes, that is the word—by the soulful, soaring, dare I say sensuous, tunes of Danielle Rose. Her music incorporates a range of styles, including folk, chant, gospel, rock and bluegrass. She tells the story of each mystery from the perspective of Biblical characters.

In “Listen to Him,” she relates the Transfiguration, the fourth Luminous Mystery, from Peter’s perspective: I hear the voice of every generation listen to Him. Time stands still when I behold your Transfiguration.

A cradle Catholic, Danielle Rose grew up in Duluth, Minnesota. Her father is an eye surgeon who volunteered his talents in India for 25 years. Both parents encouraged her to a life of service. Danielle Rose’s faith deepened in college, when she began attending daily mass and reflecting on the Real Presence. She graduated from Notre Dame in 2002 with degrees in both music and theology. Her first album, “Defining Beauty,” was released by World Library Publications before she graduated.

Danielle Rose went on to travel the world as what she called a “music missionary,” hoping to bring her musical gifts to a spiritually impoverished world. She was the 2005 United Catholic Music and Video Association (UCMVA) Unity Award Winner for Female Vocalist of the Year.

When Andy loaned me the CD of her work, he mentioned that Danielle Rose’s website and her MySpace page are out of date and he wasn’t sure if she was writing and performing anymore.

“Maybe she got married,” I responded. In fact, she did.

In August 2007, Danielle Rose Skorich entered a Charismatic and Franciscan community near Amarillo, Texas, called the Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. In August of the next year, she was accepted as a novice and received the religious name Sister Rose Therese.

“He revealed the desire of His heart for my life, and thus transformed my heart from the one being pursued by Christ, to the one in pursuit of Christ. ‘I want to be your spouse,’” Sister Rose Therese, DLJC, wrote.

Ten days before Sister Rose Therese entered the convent, she created her final mainstream album called “Pursue Me” about her discernment journey. All royalties from the sales go to promoting vocations to both the priesthood and religious life.

In a 2007 concert in Duluth, before taking her vows, Danielle Rose said she would not say farewell to her loved ones even though—other than her family—she could no longer call or email them. “See you in the Eucharist,” she sang.

I’m still quite fond of Guido. But now I’m also a Catholic thanks to Sister Rose Therese.

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  • I love her voice! She sounds like Jewel- I might have to put her latest CD on my wish list. What a beautiful story of her coming to find her vocation in religious life. I might be bias, but I think Minnesota produces some of the best homegrown Catholics 😉

  • Webster Bull

    @Sarah,And converts too! I spent the first ten years of my life in Minnesota. Though not Duluth, too cold.

  • Allison, Thanks so much for sharing Danielle Rose! I too was a Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez fan. Can't wait to hear the whole CD. Exciting

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for the story. I'd like to add my 2 bits about this kind of music. I'm probably what you call the JP2 generation (and happy to be – loved him!) and I haven't heard any of the 'traditional' music you talk about. I've been part of a Catholic charismatic youth movement ( and the music is usually as folksy as you can get! But it's brought me to Jesus and the Catholic Church in such an amazing way. And I believe that is why the Church is so amazing – because it encompasses such diverse styles in its universal nature – without losing the 'repository of faith'. Don't you just love that? Rose

  • Allison Salerno

    @Sarah and Ann: Her work feels divinely inspired, doesn't it? I am so happy my friends told me about her.@Webster and Sarah: And Minnesota produces great folkies – Bob Dylan…: )

  • Allison Salerno

    @Rose: One of the things I loved about JP2 was his ability to embrace all cultures as they strove to reflect the truth of the church. I miss him so. I find deep meaning in the church's musical patrimony and I encourage you to discover it too! Gregorian chant and polyphony are the roots of Western music; their source is the spirituality of early believers and they are a treasure of our faith.Chant transports me to another place.Danielle Rose's Hail Holy Queen incorporates chant:

  • I am amazed at the number of young people who, after a brief 'affair' in the limelight of Hollywood or the music world, are drawn to the cloistered life. Specifically the once famous actress Dolores Hart ("Where the Boys Are") left the spotlight for the Abbey of Regina Laudis in CT many years ago. See this on You Tube for more about her: guest post gives me pause to pray for vocations in general, and for young women specifically. Let us pray for all young women who are drawn to the arts (music, theatre etc.), that God might use their talents in a way that is not only 'radical', but uplifting to His Kingdom.Pax Christi.

  • Allison Salerno

    @ Rose and others:As I prepared my lunch I was mulling Rose's post a bit more. The Catholic Charismatic movement's most recent roots are in the wake of Vatican II – 1972 – with a focus, at least when I was growing up – on a personal encounter with Christ and not so much on the Eucharist and liturgy as a place to encounter God. Obviously Rose, you know lots more about the movement than I. And clearly there is a place in the movement for both personal encounters AND orthodoxy, as Sr. Rose Therese's vocation shows us.When I talk about the JP2 babies, I am thinking about my friends in their 20s and 30s who were born after that time and who hew to unabashedly to devotions and orthodoxy. These are the friends who introduced me to the liturgy of the hours, the rosary, chant, and all the teaching and devotions that had fallen out of favor when I was growing up in the 70s.I love that the Catholic Church is such a treasure chest.

  • Allison Salerno

    @mujerlatina:Another clarification. I was thinking Sr. Rose Therese was cloistered, too. She is not. She is a Franciscan sister in community. Her order offers retreats, worship "events" etc. to Catholics all over the world. It seems like the mix of charimatic and Franciscan would be a great match for

  • I love Danielle Rose! She is amazing and makes me proud to be a Catholic!

  • Allison Salerno

    @Anne.I agree. Have you heard her live? How are you familiar with her work? As I wrote, my friends attended Notre Dame with her and were acquainted that way. I have been listening to bits of each CD online and so far enjoy the Mysteries one the best as it is so devotional. But I know youth groups are singing many of her pieces, including "God Is"

  • Anonymous

    Hi Allison… Rose here. I would not say I am an expert on the Catholic Charismatic movement but I can talk from experience. It is true that the personal encounter with Christ is really a major focus. However, HOW we get that personal encounter varies for most of the people I know. For some it is through a Praise & Worship session, some the Eucharist, others through confession. Personally for me, it was during Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Unfortunately, many people forget that the personal encounter is not enough in itself and it needs to be nourished and needs to GROW with the resources (Sacraments) that the Church offers.After hearing all of you talk about it, I have decided to explore the traditional chants and that type of music. So – yes – personal encounter + orthodoxy… So much to discover in the Church! 🙂

  • Allison Salerno

    @Rose: The church is such a treasure chest, isn't she? I will be interested to hear how your exploration of chant goes. Chant comes from religious praying the Liturgy of the Hours, prayers I am just now discovering myself.One thing I enjoy about being Catholic is that every faithful Catholic I meet seems to have a different approach to their faith and through making friendships I have been able to learn from each of them about different devotions and traditions. What a blessing.

  • Allison, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal began in 1967 and, in my experience, drew Catholics deeper into Mass and other sacraments, as well as into lives of service as a response to the grace they'd experienced.Much like other effects of openness and renewal, the music of the 60s and 70s in church reflected the wonder that our own words were capable of praising God.You'll find a treasure of Scripture in the songs of the St. Louis Jesuits if you look, for instance.

  • Allison Salerno

    @Shannon:Sorry sister. I am a tail-end baby boomer and the Saint Louis Jesuits were a huge part of the church music I listened to growing up. I felt good about myself listening to the music, but sentimentality is not the same as spirituality. I tried not to pinpoint composers, but rather the music publisher (OCP) for my disappointment in my Guido blog. That loss remains; I truly feel that music robbed me. This is why I was so very moved when I discovered Danielle Rose. Her songs are both theologically correct and contemporary. Check her out. That's my mileage. Others' varies. Blessings to you.

  • Anonymous

    This is Andy from the chant club. Allison loves it when I critique her writing, so I'll just say that I don't think that any of the Vatican II reforms were misguided, just misinterpreted. Reading the original documents from the council was an important step for me in deciding to join the Church, as was the witness of Pope John Paul II and people at Notre Dame like Danielle Rose. When Allison S. and my wife (also named Allison) who are cradle-Catholics tell me some of the things they've seen done in "the spirit of Vatican II", I have to wonder how familiar people are with "the letter of Vatican II".Unfortunately I think there was a disconnect between what the council said and what many people heard. Their impression was that changes were being made where previously no change had been allowed, and so they concluded that now everything was subject to change. What was ignored was the fact that for every bit of aggiornamento (updating) there was a corresponding ressourcement (return to the beginning) that justified it in the context of the Church's Tradition. And Scripture and the Sacrament are unequivocably central to the council's message.Both Allisons tease me for having played guitar at mass in the graduate student chapel at Notre Dame, but I still think that in that setting our contemporary worship service was presented appropriately. The folksy style fit the intimate setting, and everyone in attendance was singing. However, the center of attention was hardly the musicians (most people couldn't even see me because I had to sit on the floor for lack of seats in our little alcove), but rather the altar and tabernacle which were both prominently elevated in front. We also tried to use song texts whose focus was more on God than on ourselves, and on what He does for us than what we feel we've already done. And at the basilica's folk mass, while most people could certainly recognize Danielle Rose when she was the cantor, what struck me was not her talent or "stage presence", but rather the joy and reverence with which she sang in worship.

  • Allison Salerno

    @Andy: Thanks for clarifying my thoughts and expanding on them with your own well-informed experiences.I agree with you that what needs to be the center of attention at any Mass is the altar and the tabernacle. The music needs to lead us there and it sounds like your folk-mass experiences at Notre Dame did just that.I like to say a musician "presented" at a Mass rather than "performed" because the focus should not be on them. Another question now: I am willing to wager that most cradle catholics have NOT read V2 documents and that a higher percentage of adult converts have…Anyone?

  • Anonymous

    Rose again! You are right. I've lived only in post V2 times and I have never read the V2 documents. I have heard other people talking about it – but never read them. I love the way the Church is now… and I'm really grateful for what I think V2 did.

  • Allison Salerno

    What do you think V2 did, Rose?