Catholic Blogger Katie O'Keefe

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Knowing Katie O’Keefe in real life is a great joy for me. I actually knew her mom first and have only been friends with Katie for a couple of years. As it turns out, our husbands went to school together. (Small world, anyone?)

I spent a lot of time thinking about whether I should tell you about how she can sing at Mass and have me in tears faster than just about anyone else. Or maybe you need to hear about how she can laugh in a way that makes you feel hugged inside. But then again, there’s that ability she has to boil things down, hear what you’re not-quite-saying, and then just, somehow, support you without judging or throwing tomatoes. Even if you’re grossly wrong and gripey.

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Well, what I am¬†definitely going to tell you about is about the work she’s doing online. She’s one of our Tech Talk contributors here at CatholicMom.com, and she has a little writing project up her sleeve that starts soon so you’ll be reading more of her. (But I’ll let her tell you about that in a few weeks.)

Katie is one of those amazing people who can juggle two blogs, going back to school, a grandson, elderlyish parents, and a career. She also manages to tweet and text simultaneously and I suspect that someday, she may just take over the world. Or at least our county. And I’m okay with that. ūüôā

Katie’s blogs are The Backs of People’s Heads and Baby’s Faces¬†(BPH&BF) and The Beautiful Music Challenge¬†(BMC). Whether you’re a music aficionado or just someone who likes a good jam, you’ll appreciate Katie’s observations and expertise. She’s a music professional. (Oh, did I forget to mention that above? Why yes, yes I did.)

Tell us about your blog in five words or less.

BPH&BF – Reflections on life and faith
BMC – Liturgical Music for Catholics

Why did you start blogging?

I started writing¬†Backs of People’s Heads and Baby Faces¬†as an outlet for everything going on in my head. When I started, it wasn’t anything real at all. It was just a “thing” I did. It’s a mish-mash of poetry, creative writing, and “deep thoughts” about life, in general. When I go back to some of the first things I wrote, I am really embarrassed by how self-serving they are. Gradually, I began to comment on more faith-based topics. Now, I review books and music from time to time, and participate in link parties and larger topical discussions, like Catholic Mom’s Lawn Chair Catechism. I had shared a couple of things about liturgical music on BPH&BF, but it seemed like that topic needed it’s own page, so a few years ago I beganThe Beautiful Music Challenge.

The Beautiful Music Challenge started as a way to chronicle what I was learning about being a Catholic Church musician and share it with others. Even though I was raised a Catholic, when I became a music director, I still had a great deal to learn about what constitutes liturgical music and what does not. Catholics have a unique musical vocabulary and a unique purpose for their music: to point to the Eucharist. This is a focus that no other denomination (save the Orthodox) shares.

To balance the consumer-driven, new-is-better model of liturgical education pushed at conventions, I began to collect links to free resources and write posts on what I have learned. It’s gained a little bit of an audience, not just among music directors, but also among choir members and people who just sit in the pew. Currently, I am reformatting it to be a Thematic Digital Collection. Hopefully, that will make it more user friendly. I hope to broaden the perspective of the writing a bit more, too, by incorporating links to other people’s writing on liturgical music.

Why do you keep blogging? What’s your inspiration to continue?

There is just so much to say. Catholicism is so very rich – the knowledge is as deep as the sea. Well, deeper. You and I could write for a thousand years on one facet of Catholicism and never exhaust it. Liturgical music is one of those facets. There is so much to know. I couldn’t possibly exhaust the topic. Sometimes I hit on something that I feel like I have to share and it strikes a chord with someone. I never know who that person will be. I’m just trying to let the Holy Spirit guide me. Sometimes I am more successful at being an instrument, but sometimes, I fail in a big way. Getting out of the way and letting God act through you is a tough thing.

When you think of the New Evangelization as a Catholic blogger, what excites you? What makes you want to continue?

It excites me to see people rooting around in the treasure chest that is their Faith, finding those proverbial lost coins and inviting everyone to join in the celebration of finding them. Sharing our faith and our struggles with one another strengthens us and lets us know that we are not disconnected from each other, even though thousands of miles may separate us. There is a unity in the body of Christ. I think of the people I have “met” through blogging from all over the English-speaking world and I am awed. Who could have imagined this community? Certainly not me.

It’s a place where people can find information and ask good questions. It’s a place where you can grow. But I see a challenge facing us. That challenge is to be charitable. It’s not always easy to speak with love when someone attacks something you hold so dear, yet, that is our calling.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your blogging?

Every now and then, something I write hits home and resonates. When I have made a difference – whether that’s giving someone a piece of information needed to make a music program better or letting a fellow pilgrim know no one is ever alone in their struggle to deepen their prayer lives – that’s very rewarding.

In your spare time, what are we likely to find you doing?

There’s not much spare time in my life at the moment between school, work and writing, but, when I do get a free moment, you can find me playing with my grandson, Patrick.

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Copyright 2014 Sarah Reinhard

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4 Comments

  1. “Catholics have a unique musical vocabulary and a unique purpose for their music: to point to the Eucharist.” What a great insight. I know so little about liturgical music, really, even though I hear it every week!

    Blessings on your work!

    • Thank you, Ginny!
      I hope that you’ll join us over at The Beautiful Music Challenge. You’re welcome to ask questions or weigh in with your observations, anytime.

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