Bob Beatty ties together music, liturgy, and community at St. Vincent’s Parish in Chicago

This article first appeared in the autumn 2023 edition of The Vincentian, the quarterly newsletter of the Congregation of the Mission Western Province. 

Bob Beatty said a love of music has been with him since his early childhood in Binghamton, NY, particularly in a church setting, where he was first exposed to it.

“I knew I wanted to be an organist,” he said. “I really had a passion for the instrument and for the liturgy. I was playing at a local church when I was in junior high.”

Bob initially came to Chicago to work for the senior liturgical advisor to Joseph Cardinal Bernardine. At that time, he became the assistant organist at Holy Name Cathedral. He expanded his work to also include nonprofit direct marketing. He started as organist and music director at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in 1996 and over the last 10 years moved into the position of director of community development.

“As an organization’s needs change, you adapt, and the best you can do is learn and grow with that,” Bob said. “That is exciting because there is a tremendous potential there if you trust the process.”

Bob said the ways we come to know God are truth, goodness, and beauty, and he believes the beauty of music and the beauty of the church are connected and an essential part of the liturgical experience.

“In music, you develop a theme,” Bob said, “and by the time you get to the end, it comes to a conclusion and is completely transformed. That is like life. The process in between is what shapes us.”