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Sister Mary Frances Fleischaker, OP, Reflects on Music and Spirituality
Sister Mary Fran Fleischaker, OP

July 28, 2022, Miami, Florida – Sister Mary Frances Fleischaker, OP, focused on the power of music and its intimate relationship with spirituality during an online presentation, Music and Spirituality: Sound of the Soul. Her June 9, 2022, presentation was sponsored by the Spirituality Committee of the Adrian Dominican Sisters.  

Following musical tradition, Sister Mary Fran – a musician and a theologian who teaches at Barry University in Miami, Florida – offered her presentation in three movements. Her first movement focused on the experience of music. “I invite us all to remember and retrieve a musical experience that has some connection for us with spirituality or reveals something about the power of music,” she said. 

Sister Mary Fran shared the musical experiences that she had elicited from anonymous Sisters before the presentation. “For me, music and spirituality go hand-in-hand,” one Sister said. “Music invites a response, such as gratitude or thanksgiving, calmness, or peacefulness. As I age, I find my spirituality deepening through music.”

In the second movement, Sister Mary Fran offered a number of perspectives that “may help us understand why and how music can be called the sound of the soul.” Just as music only occurs in the present for both the performer and listener, so God can be found only in the present, she said. 

“Music has the capacity to symbolize the personal nature of God’s self-communication, and music has the capacity to resonate, not only in one person but in many people at the same time – and to elicit from us a response of relationship, a response of dialogue, a response of interaction, a response of emotion, of thoughts and ideas,” she said.

Sister Mary Fran concluded her presentation with the third movement: the opportunity for her audience to listen contemplatively to three pieces of music: Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child, an African-American spiritual; Pie Jesu by Andrew Lloyd Weber; and Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber.

A recording of Sister Mary Fran’s presentation can be found below.


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