By Mary Stadnyk | Associate Editor
The way Father Scott Shaffer sees it, preaching the Word of God and bringing people into a deeper relationship with Christ are a priest’s top priorities.
And while all people are blessed with different gifts and talents, Father Shaffer, pastor of St. Joseph Parish, Toms River, believes he brings to his priesthood an ability to lead people to Our Lord through effective verbal communication and musical talent.
Father Shaffer’s musical skills were most recently reflected in the CD he released in time for the observance of the Feast of the Holy Rosary on Oct. 7 and the 100th anniversary of the Fatima apparitions on Oct. 13. Entitled “The Rosary in Song,” the 45-minute CD is a blend of sung and narrative elements which were composed by Father Shaffer. The CD features voices and instrumental accompaniment by four Donovan Catholic students, as well as four adult singers – two women and two men. St. Joseph Parish music director, Gina Corrao, and Harold Frazee, band director in Donovan Catholic, helped produce the CD.
Father Shaffer said the CD evolved after completing a previous project about six years ago. In 2011, shortly before the translation of the revised Roman Missal went into effect, Father Shaffer was asked to compose a new Mass setting that incorporated the changed elements and wording in the various parts such as the Gloria; Holy, Holy, Holy; Memorial Acclamation and Lamb of God. It was while on a pilgrimage in Sorrento, Italy, where he found inspiration to compose the Mass of Sorrento. Eventually Father Shaffer, who at the time was pastor of St. Aloysius and St. Monica Parishes, both in Jackson, proceeded to compose a new chant for “The Lord’s Prayer” (“Our Father”), which, when presented to the congregation, was immediately embraced.
It was soon after he arrived as pastor in Toms River in 2012 that he “Mass of Sorrento” and “Our Father” were not only used for weekend Masses, but were also taught to the students in St. Joseph Grade School and sung for school Masses.
Father Shaffer recalled a conversation he had with a school parent who had commented that her daughter was singing “Father Scott’s ‘Our Father’” at home. The girl also asked her mother when Father Scott was going to write a “Hail Mary.”
“At the time, I just smiled,” he said, but then about a year later, “I was in the car and began thinking about writing the ‘Hail Mary.’” Eventually he composed the “Glory Be” and the “Apostle’s Creed,” which are both sung and spoken. Overall, he said, the CD is structured with the four Mysteries of the Rosary – Glorious, Sorrowful, Joyful and Luminous – being announced and prayed simultaneously and then are followed by a sung decade of the Rosary.
Father Shaffer said it’s his hope that through “The Rosary in Song” CD, people will be instilled with a desire to want to pray the Rosary and learn more about its Mysteries.
To listen to a snippet of “The Rosary in Song,” visit stjosephtomsriver.org/pray. Once on the page, scroll down to where it says “Click below to hear Father Scott’s version of the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be.”
To order the CD, contact The Carpenter Shop in St. Joseph Church at 685 Hooper Ave., Toms River, NJ 08753. Send mailing address and payment in the amount of $13.50 ($10 for the CD and $3.50 for shipping and handling).
For more information, call 732-914-2457.