She ministers through music

By Susan Grossardt | For The Compass | May 14, 2014

As children’s choir director, Pfluger shares talent and love for music with others

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]ALLOUEZ — For Sharon Pfluger, children’s choir director at Resurrection Parish, music is not only her work, it quite simply permeates her life.

Sharon Pfluger (Sam Lucero | The Compass)
Sharon Pfluger (Sam Lucero | The Compass)

Music has been a part of her life since third grade, when she took piano lessons for one year but essentially taught herself all aspects of music thereafter. Pfluger was the oldest of 11 children and money was tight. In ninth grade, when music played a more significant role in her life, she joined what was fondly referred to as the folk group at Resurrection.

Throughout high school, Pfluger helped with Bible school and Sunday morning religion classes. As a student at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Pfluger started the children’s choir at Resurrection. The idea was actually born out of a school project. She did some research into what music offerings were available to children in each parish. She submitted her paper to the professor and began the children’s choir at Resurrection. Pfluger has been a member of the parish for 41 years.

In her early days as a third grade teacher at St. Jude on Green Bay’s west side, she taught every subject, with the exception of music, as they already had a music teacher on staff. But Pfluger played guitar as she wove other academic themes into the content of her classes. “We can memorize a lot through music,” she adds.

Her commitment to continually bringing music up an octave at Resurrection is never a job. More accurately, Pfluger sees herself as a true vessel through which God can reach out to those who may use music as the perfect method to bring someone back into the fold.

There are numerous examples of God’s hand at work through her ministry. Some of them are life changing. Pfluger shares stories where individuals have gone through dark chapters and the one ray of light was “the gift of music and their participation in choir.” Pfluger emphasizes that talent level is always an aside.

The music minister has a number of important guidelines when it comes to choir. One of which is the fact that there are no tryouts. She believes that individuals should participate as they are moved to participate.

There’s an example of one choir member who wasn’t a singer but pursued organ lessons and is now a very active organist. “So you never know what God has in mind for people.”

Pfluger has built special traditions into the music agenda at Resurrection and one of them is a song performed exclusively on Good Friday. You won’t hear it any other time during Lent. It’s called, “This Much.”

“It has four chords unlike the complex music that you hear on the radio,” she explains. “But the words are touching to people. It starts out with the point of view of the mother of Jesus when he was a little boy and very quickly moves to Jesus who dies on the cross and he says I love you this much.”

Certain songs, whether religious or part of popular culture, tend to stick with us. “This Much” is one such song. “I have had feedback from people on that piece of music in so many rather unexpected places,” says Pfluger. “Someone stopped me at the Milwaukee Zoo and said, ‘Oh, you’re the woman who sings “This Much” on Good Friday.’”

Someone even stopped her in the ladies bathroom at the Weidner Center and commented on how that particular song had touched her heart. Many people have asked whether she wrote the song. Pfluger humbly adds, “Of course I did not. I received it from another member of the folk group. But it has become a tradition for us at Resurrection. I’m honored to be a part of that.”

For someone who pours herself into her music ministry, one would think that Pfluger could name a favorite song. Not exactly. “My favorite song really varies with the season. I’m always singing something and it’s almost like I can’t control what song is in my head. I’ll find myself singing or humming a song and then the children whom I care for during the day will follow along.”

However, when pressed for a song she would admit that the Lenten song, “Beyond the Days,” by Paulist Fr. Ricky Manalo remains in her mind throughout the year. The refrain especially speaks to her.

“Beyond the days of hope and mystery. We see a light of faith renewed. And in our longing, we thirst for guidance to walk with you day-by-day.”

Music undoubtedly plays a major role in Pfluger’s faith journey.

“It helps me to remember things. I have learned so much Scripture along with church doctrine by this music that I sing and I think that I’ve passed it on to both children and adults,” she says. “It’s a comfortable way for people to commit Scripture to memory or learn important messages that we can pull out when we need them in life.”

She believes that’s where God works on an emotional level. A level that’s hard to describe.

Pfluger is continually affirmed in her ministry and the epiphany moments are accentuated at important events like weddings, and more sensitively, at funerals as it is a chance to be there for the family to help them to use not words but feelings (through music) to connect.

“My goal for choir is not to make others into fantastic musicians,” she says. “My goal is to help them enjoy themselves in church. Enjoy themselves in their church community and to grow and learn more about their faith, not primarily about music itself. If they do, that’s great.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_message color=”alert-info” style=”rounded”]Your Catholic Neighbor

Name: Sharon Pfluger

Parish: Resurrection, Allouez

Age: 55

Favorite saint: Blessed Mother

Words to live by: “It’s the day by day … the little things that matter.”[/vc_message][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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