You teach at DePaul University and are a scholar-in-residence at St. Gregory's Hall. What is it that you teach at both of those places, and how did you come to teach it?
I'm an associate professor in the Catholic Studies department at DePaul, where I teach classes in Catholic Theology, Church History, and Religion and Literature. The scholarly work I do is primarily about early Christianity, specifically how folks in roughly the first seven centuries of the church interpreted the Bible and what that meant for the life of the Church.
Sarah Crow received her BFA in painting and minor in creative writing from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in 2013, and an MFA in painting from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) in 2016. She currently lives and works in Chicago where she has also taught as a part-time lecturer at SAIC in the Painting and Drawing Department. Sarah entered the Catholic Church in 2017 and seeks to use her talents to serve Mother Church. You can learn more about her work here.
You can join Sarah Crow for a monthly life drawing session on the third Saturday of the month.
Can you talk about how you came to work as an artist, and how you came to be a Catholic? We can start with whichever of those things you would prefer talk about first- but both journeys are important.
I remember being a five-year-old clutching a crayon, knowing that I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. However, I went off track in my youth and came back to art almost accidentally, when I was in community college. I took art electives, and I remember in my life-drawing class, I was working on this charcoal drawing of the model and getting so frustrated, breaking down into tears and leaving the classroom. Then I pulled myself together, came back and realized: This was the hardest thing that I had ever done, and it was the most rewarding thing. And I was hooked back into art.
Kevin Allen is a well-known composer. His works, sacred and secular, have been performed in churches and concert halls throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia. Based in Chicago, he is the founding director of the Collins Consort, American Composer’s Project, and Schola Immaculata. Mr. Allen is also the director of Schola Laudis at the Benedictine Monastery of the Holy Cross. He is Artist & Composer-in-Residence at St. Gregory's Hall. On Saturday, September 3, he will direct the music for a special Mass for the Feast of St. Gregory the Great. More info here.
What drew you to sacred music and to composing, and what kept you in this realm of work?
It started early at Holy Angels School [in Chicago]. I had a fantastic music teacher, Sister Lorraine Quella, who was of the School Sisters of St. Francis; they were based in Milwaukee but staffing the school in Bronzeville. She was my music teacher for my entire time there at Holy Angels.
We are very happy to announce that Mark Franzen has been hired as the founding director of the Cultural Center at St. Gregory the Great.
Mark comes to us from the Lumen Christi Institute, where he served as Senior Program Coordinator. He is also a long-time parishioner of St. Gregory the Great. Mark shared some of his thoughts on the mission of the Cultural Center and what it will mean for evangelization in the neighborhood.
If you would like to get in touch with Mark about the Cultural Center, contact him by email.
Can you speak about the significance of this role, given how long you’ve been a parishioner at St. Gregory’s?
It’s God’s providence that I’m having this opportunity, and it’s fitting insofar as usually when we want to see some kind of change in the church, we want to see something right, we want to start somewhere new or go somewhere else. Being able to start a center like this in my home parish, it’s just unbelievable. It doesn’t feel like a job, it feels like a vocation. My hope is that I can live up to what is a very significant thing I’ve been called to here.
My understanding of the faith has been cultivated at this parish. My wife, Lauren, and I are both baptized Catholics who returned to the faith as adults and went through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults at St. Gregory and were confirmed there.