CMI has acquired the library of the renowned Roman Catholic theologian and composer, Michael Joncas. Father Joncas is perhaps best known as the creator of “On Eagle’s Wings,” a beloved hymn for many congregants and a favorite of President Joe Biden. Joncas was ordained in 1980 and will retire from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul and active ministry on January 1, 2022. He wrote six books, numerous articles, and is a prolific creator of music. He continues to be a leader in liturgical circles and the ecumenical movement.
His library reflects his expansive and inquisitive mind. There are over 2,000 books in the collection ranging from the theological, the musical, to the ecclesiastical art world. His entire musical compositions are included, some with multiple copies for study and performance, numbering another ~2,000 octavos. There are publications of interest for the cleric, the musician, the art historian, as well as the mildly curious.
Joncas’ collection is extensive. Theological writings span the gamut from Thomas Aquinas to Hans Küng. Challenged by how the Virgin of Guadalupe may be commemorated in Protestant and Evangelical circles? Maxwell Johnson, an Anglo-Lutheran theologian/liturgist, provides insights in his book, The Virgin of Guadalupe. Interested in the daily routines and thoughts from the Second Vatican Council? Yves Congar notes in his diary the opening ceremony was full of pomp, marred by a mediocre choral performance of Tu es Petrus (You are Peter) and the “stupid” applause that accompanied the departing pope on his portable throne. (Congar was a major contributor to Vatican II and was named a Cardinal by Pope John Paul II in 1994.)
Beautifully illustrated art books include the macrocosm of the Medieval to the Romanesque and the microcosm of paintings in the Sistine Chapel to devotional icons from Sinai. The collections of writings on church music are extensive: African American church music, patterns in protestant church music, Luther and the liturgy, information for the clergy and church musicians, and hymnal guides.
The U-Haul containing the Michael Joncas’ books arrived at CMI headquarters in July, 2021. The staff at CMI is preparing to catalogue and inventory the books. Soon, members of CMI will be able to peruse, study, and imbibe from the collection. Life on this earth is transitory, but the thoughts and ideas expressed in books are not.
Dr. René Schmidt
DRAFT October 22, 2021