The Piano Piece He Heard at Age 12 Is Still Changing Him

Pursuing music inspired Gerard Remmes’ pursuit of God.

“When I was 12, I heard my older brother play Clair de Lune by Claude Debussy,” he said.  “It was the first time in my life that the depth of beauty in the piece fostered a deep desire to learn it on the piano and actually practice out of love for the music. This was a turning point in my passion for practicing and pursuing musical studies.”

Originally from Illinois, Remmes is now at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, as a Music major with a concentration in Organ and an emphasis in Liturgical Music. He is also an Angelico Fellow at the Center for Beauty & Culture at the college. Benedictine College’s focus on academic excellence has taken Gerard’s education in music the next step.

“My Benedictine Liberal Arts degree has helped me to learn to enjoy God’s beauty,” Gerard said. “The only reason I can keep doing it and not burn out in music is because of the missional value – you don’t do it for yourself. I play music to soothe the soul of the listener and to help others worship Him.”

The fellows program creates a community of faith and scholarship that changes students, he said.  “Just being around other [Angelico Fellows] who seek beauty has transformed how I see things.” But it is faith that sustains, he said.

“The total world view on how to see the beauty in creation as a whole, be it in a painting or a poem, has taught me a great deal,” said Gerard. “Each month there has been a different theme ranging from things like ‘how to read a painting’ to ‘the liturgical purpose of church architecture.’” In particular hearing Adam Barlett speak on campus about the New Evangelization in liturgical music was important. “Being a Fellow has provided an opportunity to come into contact with the Church’s beauty. I have received a global perspective by encountering the beauty of a painting, the symbolism found in a reading, or a beautiful poem.”

This past summer Gerard was a Music Intern for the Cathedral of St. Cecilia in Omaha, Neb. “This internship was a true synthesis of my excellent musical education at Benedictine and the learning that has been fostered by being an Angelico Fellow.”

As part of his internship, Remmes formed and led a Gregorian chant schola. The experience equipped him with the skills and experience to return to campus and serve the College community through College Ministry and St. Paul’s Outreach. Remmes said that his key takeaway from his experience over the summer solidified something that he had already come to realize through his experiences in the classroom and through the Angelico Fellows. It comes down to one thing: Pursuing God by pursuing beauty.

Benedictine College

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas. The school is honored to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report, the best private college in Kansas by The Wall Street Journal, and one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by First Things magazine and the Newman Guide. It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging. Benedictine College is dedicated to transforming culture in America through its mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.

Jenna Ross

Jenna Ross

Jenna Ross is a writer for the Marketing Department at Benedictine College in Kansas and is an adjunct faculty. A proud military spouse who has served and taught soldiers around the world, Ross has written for the U.S. Army Training Management Division and the New Mexico Lottery among other places. She and her husband, George, have three young adult children and live near Atchison, Kansas.