Franciscan School of Theology

Mary E. McGann, RSCJ


(510) 848-5232 x22

- Associate Professor of Liturgy and Music


  • Ph.D. Graduate Theological Union (Worship and the Arts)
  • M.A. University of Notre Dame (Music and Liturgy)
  • M.A. LaSalle University (Religious Studies)
  • B.Mus. Manhattanville College (Music Education)

“Liturgy is at the heart of who we are as Christians and at the center of our life together at FST. It is my hope that in both our study and our celebration of liturgy, we come to know more fully who we are as Christ’s body, in all its rich diversity, and commit ourselves to living for the sake of the world.”

Dr. Mary McGann, a Religious of the Sacred Heart, joined the FST faculty in 1996 upon completion of her Ph.D. in Worship and the Arts at the GTU, with a concentration in ethnomusicology at the University of California, Berkeley. In addition to a strong academic background in liturgy and music, Mary brings significant pastoral experience, including nine years of service as Director of Liturgy at Loyola University, Chicago.

Mary’s teaching and writing place particular emphasis on the importance of cultural diversity in the church’s worship practice, and the challenge of appreciating and fostering the modes of liturgical and musical expression appropriate to each culture. Her courses at the Franciscan School explore the theology and practice of Christian worship, the relationship of liturgy and spirituality, ecology and liturgy, processes of liturgical inculturation, women and worship, and liturgical leadership. She is a member of the Core Doctoral Faculty of the GTU in Liturgical Studies, teaching primarily in the areas of Ritual Studies and Ethnographic Research Methods.

Mary is the author of Let It Shine! The Emergence of African American Worship (wih Eva M. Lumas and Rawn Harbor) (New York: Fordham University Press, 2008; A Precious Fountain: Music in the Worship of an African American Catholic Community (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2004), Exploring Music as Worship and Theology (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2002), as well as several articles. She has given workshops on liturgy and music in a variety of academic and pastoral settings in the U.S. and abroad. Mary served on the translation committee for the ICEL Liturgical Psalter (Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 1994) and on the editorial committee for the Hymnal for the Hours (Chicago: GIA, 1989). She is a member of the North American Academy of Liturgy, the Catholic Academy of Liturgy, Societas Liturgica, and the Society for Ethnomusicology.

Selected Course Descriptions

Liturgy and Spirituality
This course examines the interrelatedness of liturgy, spirituality, and culture from a Roman Catholic perspective in an ecumenical context. It explores the origins and historical evolution of Christian worship—including the forms, patterns, and language—as well as to its contemporary practice. Special focus is given to contemporary concerns such as the inculturation of liturgy; the relationships of worship, social justice, and the mission of the church; issues of inclusion; and the relationship of liturgy and spirituality in specific ethno-cultural settings.

The Art of Liturgical Prayer
This course explores in depth the patterns of both Eucharist and Liturgy of the Hours, and how these patterns can be embodied by assemblies in ways that are inclusive, dynamic, and sensitive to the challenge of a multi-cultural church. Focus is given to the role of music, proclamation, environment, and various modes of ritual action in the church’s worship, as well as to the relationship between liturgical celebration and the church’s mission in the world. Students are involved in the preparation/celebration of the weekly liturgy at the Franciscan School and assist in the coordination of various ministries.

Ecology and Liturgy
This seminar explores the vital connection between ecology and the theology/practice of Christian worship. It unfolds in three progressive stages: Part I focuses on “Earth our home: Thanksgiving and praise our vocation.” Part II explores strategies for “Assessing the Health of the Earth: Conversion, lament and intercession our response.” Part III focuses on “Healing ourselves, healing earth; Ecological worship and ethical living as our path to the future.” Theological, liturgical and scientific perspectives will be explored using a wide range of authors, with specific attention to Franciscan themes.

Ritual Studies as Liturgical Studies
This seminar explores the changing understandings of “ritual” in contemporary scholarship in the humanities and the social sciences, and the implications of this evolution for liturgical scholarship. Students engage in critical analysis of various theories of ritual, as well as research into new developments in this emerging sub-field of liturgical studies.

Other Courses Taught

  • Women, Spirituality and Worship
  • Inculturation and Liturgy
  • Ethnographic Research Methods
  • Music as Ritual Performance
  • Research in Music and Liturgy
  • Advanced Preaching and Prayer Leadership


  • “Making Vital Connections: Developing Creational Consciousness in Life and Worship,” Liturgy. (forthcoming)
  • “Celebrating Baptism in a Time of Planetary Crisis,” in Drenched in Grace, Lizette Larson Miller and Walter Knowls, eds. (forthcoming)
  • “Musical Liturgical Ethnography: Challenges and Promise.” Jaarboek vor liturgie onderzoek. 2010
  • “Timely Wisdom, Prophetic Challenge: Rediscovering Clarence R.J. Rivers’ Vision of Effective Worship,” Worship 76:1, January, 2002. 2–24
  • “The Emergence of African American Catholic Worship,” co-authored with Eva Marie Lumas, U. S. Catholic Historian, 2:10, Spring, 2001. 27–65
  • “Hymn and Anaphora in Early Christian Liturgy,” Ecclesia Orans, 17:3, 2000. 407–43
    33 articles for Worship Music: A Concise Dictionary, Edward Foley, General Editor. (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 2000)
  • “Why Do Congregations Sing?” co-authored with Edward Foley, Proceedings of the North American Academy of Liturgy, Annual Meeting, January, 1990
  • “Music and the Eucharistic Prayer” (co-authored with Edward Foley), Assembly 12:3, 1986

Papers / Presentations

  • A Theopolitics of Water: Baptism in a Time of Global Water Crisis.” Societas Liturgica, Reims, France, August, 2011
  • “Developing a Structured Doctoral Program,” Theology Faculty, University of Muenster, Germany, June, 2010
  • “Musical, Liturgical Ethnogrpahy.” Protestant Theological University, Utrecht, The Netherlands, November, 2009
  • “’Blessed is She Among Women’: Quan Am, Mary of LaVang, and the Cult of the Mother Goddesses in Vietnam.” North American Academy of Liturgy, January, 2008.
  • “Liturgical Ethnography: Source of Healing in a Divided Church,” 20th Congress of the Societas Liturgica, Dresden, Germany, August 2005
  • “Embracing the Diversity within the Church,” 28th Annual Convention, National Association of Pastoral Musicians, Milwaukee, WI, June 30, 2005
  • “Interpreting the Musical Experience of a Liturgical Community.” Liturgical Hermeneutics Study Group, North American Academy of Liturgy, Annual Meeting, New York, NY, January 4, 2004
  • “Liturgical Ethnography and African American Catholic Worship.” African American Worship Traditions Study Group, North American Academy of Liturgy, Annual Meeting, New York, NY, January 3, 2004
  • “Effective Worship as Soulful Worship: The Enduring Legacy of Clarence R. J. Rivers.” North American Academy of Liturgy, Annual Meeting, St. Louis, January 2001
  • “Rhythms of the Body, Rhythms of the Spirit. A Further Look at Gospel Music in Catholic Liturgy.” Society for Ethnomusicology, Annual Meeting, Bloomington, IN. October, 1998


  • Let It Shine: The Emergence of African American Worship. (with Eva M. Lumas and Rawn Harbor). New York: Fordham University Press, 2008
  • A Precious Fountain: Music in the Worship of an African American Catholic Community, Virgil Michel Series (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2004)
  • Exploring Music as Worship and Theology: Research in Liturgical Practice. Essays in American Liturgy Series (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 2002)
  • Music and the Eucharistic Prayer (co-authored with Edward Foley), American Essays in Liturgy Series. (Collegeville: The Liturgical Press, 1988)