You may have never heard the name Fr. Clarence Rivers before today. Fr. Rivers was a renowned composer and liturgist, among other things, and he was helping people better understand — better see themselves — in the liturgy long before the Second Vatican Council made such actions the norm. Fr. Rivers was also the first Black priest ordained in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, and his own heritage and lived experience greatly informed his approach to the liturgy and to his own priestly ministry.
But Fr. Rivers is slowly being lost to the relentless march of time. His legacy is interwoven in so much of how we understand Catholic liturgy today, and yet his name is far from our lips.
Fortunately, our guests today — Emily Strand and Eric Styles — host their own podcast, and it’s called Meet Father Rivers.
Emily has taught religion at the collegiate level for more than 15 years, and currently does so at Mt. Carmel College in Ohio. She is the author of two books on Catholicism and has published several essays on religious and literary themes in popular culture in peer-reviewed publications. Emily is also a lifelong church musician, serving her parish as a cantor, accompanist and ensemble director, and serving the National Association of Pastoral Musicians as chair of the Forum on Communication.
Eric Styles has served as the rector of Carroll Hall, an intentional undergraduate residential community at the University of Notre Dame, since 2016. He holds degrees from the University of Cincinnati and Loyola University Chicago. Eric worked as a parish liturgy coordinator at Saint Benedict the African Catholic Church in Chicago and as a house manager for the Theatre School of DePaul University. He spent time discerning the call to religious life with the Society of Jesus, though eventually discovered that was not where God was inviting him to be. Eric remains active in the performing arts as a collaborator with Afro House, a Baltimore-based music driven performance art ensemble. Eric writes about theology, liturgy and contemporary culture.
Both of our guests are passionate about the liturgy, deeply inspired by the legacy of Fr. Rivers and determined to help form the imagination of people of faith today.
AMDG is a production of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States.