Living the Faith: Len Palmer

SCITUATE -- Saying goodbye to your parish is never easy.

Len Palmer, longtime parishioner at St. Francis Xavier Cabrini Parish in Scituate, saw his parish close as part of the parish reconfiguration process. Rather than give in to sadness and anger, he “responded to the invitation” extended by Father Brian Manning, pastor of the nearby St. Mary of the Nativity Parish in Scituate.

“It has become so much better an experience than I ever expected,” Palmer told The Pilot.

“I’ve become a real parishioner there. It’s become my family’s spiritual home,” he said.

After being a parishioner at St. Mary of the Nativity for only a short time, Palmer felt God was calling him “to do something with the music there,” he recalled.

He approached Father Manning, and asked if he could start a contemporary choir that “would do something a little bit differently” with some modern Catholic music, some different instruments. Father Manning agreed, and helped Palmer by asking for volunteers to become part of the contemporary choir

“I was a bit nervous to start it, but I handed it over to the Lord,” said Palmer.

According to Palmer, “it was spectacular what happened.”

People of all ages -- from 11 to 70 -- came forward, offering to contribute their musical abilities to the choir.

“It was like the people that came forward were all waiting for something like this to begin,” he said.

Currently the choir has two guitarists, a keyboard player, a drummer and 10 vocalists.

“There is absolutely no strife with the people within the group,” Palmer said. “Everyone looks forward to going to practice every week.”

In addition, Palmer believes the choir has had “a great effect on the worship.”

“My goal really was to have an impact on other people’s faith through music,” he stated, “and I think something really providential is going on.”

Palmer credits the choir’s success in part to the support given to him by Father Manning.

“He had a lot of faith in me,” even though he was a new parishioner, Palmer said.

In addition, Palmer praised keyboard player Steve Donovan. According to Palmer, it is Donovan who arranges the songs and creates the four-part harmonies the choir is known for performing.

Palmer, 44, grew up in Braintree, moving to Scituate in 1990. He and his wife, Laurie, have three children, ages 15, 12 and 9. Both Palmer and his wife teach religious education classes.

“That was another leap of faith that I took,” he said with a laugh.

“Teaching religious education is very rewarding -- they don’t always listen, but it’s still very rewarding,” he said. Currently Palmer teaches seventh graders.

“A lot of them [the students] unfortunately don’t have a lot of exposure to their faith at home,” he said, indicating that for those students he feels it is critical they grasp that “nothing can ever separate them from the love of Jesus.”