Jane Marie Perrot, DC
November 12, 1916 - December 12, 1998
November 12, 1916 - December 12, 1998
Sister Jane Marie Perrot, DC, a member of the Daughters of Charity for sixty-three years, died peacefully at Villa St. Michael in Emmitsburg, MD, on December 12, 1998. She was eighty-two.
Sister Jane Marie was born in Portsmouth, Virginia, on November 12, 1916. She joined the Daughters of Charity when she was nineteen and professed solemn vows in 1940. Her academic degrees suggest that her life's work combined business and music: she earned a BS from St. Joseph College, Emmitsburg, MD, a master's in education from Boston University (1950), and a master's in music from the Catholic University of America (1952).
After her early assignments in Connecticut, Maryland, and the District of Columbia, during which she taught business education, music, and even prom etiquette (how long your white gloves should be!), as the Second Vatican Council was taking place (1962-65), Sister Jane Marie went to the Daughters of Charity Emmitsburg Provincial House for two years to serve as director of music for the entire community. As the post-conciliar liturgical reform was being implemented, Jane Marie taught music at St. Joseph College, Emmitsburg, until its closing in 1973. In these two key positions, she was instrumental in forming the Eastern Province of the Daughters of Charity in community with her love for music and liturgy.
In August 1973, she became the executive director of the National Catholic Music Education Association, serving until the association dissolved itself in October 1976. In 1975 she conducted the Emmitsburg Community Chorus at St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City for the canonization of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. She was told that she was the first woman–ever!–to conduct a choir for a Eucharistic liturgy presided over by a pope in St. Peter's Basilica. In 1977, after the NCMEA closed shop, she joined the founding staff of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians working with Rev. Virgil C. Funk, Bill Detweiller, and Rev. William Saulnier. She served NPM as the staff music consultant, the Convention coordinator for the first National Convention (Scranton, 1978), where she first conducted the Hallelujah Chorus at the close of an NPM Convention. She also established and staffed the advertising and exhibit department for NPM. She continued on the NPM staff until 1983, when health problems forced her into retirement. She celebrated her departure by conducting the Hallelujah Chorus at the St. Louis Cathedral with 4,000 musicians singing their hearts out. At that St. Louis Convention, Sister Jane Marie was given the NPM Pastoral Musician of the Year Award.
I remember Jane Marie at the first NPM Convention in Scranton in 1978. We prepared for 600 people; 1,700 people showed up. She was serving as the convention coordinator, with no office, one phone, and all those people coming at her at one time. I'll never forget the look on her face as she held on to her patience–by a thread–in the midst of total chaos. What a look!
Nor will I forget the plan she developed one year later, during the Second NPM Convention in Chicago, when the fire marshal was going to close the Convention down. She created a mythical authority person to match the inaccessible fire marshal; pulling herself up to her full stature, she also dressed down the toughest Chicago union dock foreman–she knew how to handle difficult situations.
Any NPM member who ever met her will remember her for her kindness and joy. She was an excellent general musician, but her great love was the music of the liturgy. She embraced the changes of the Second Vatican Council, both in theory and in her heart, and became an unswerving advocate for the renewal of Church through musical liturgy. But no one associated with NPM and Sister Jane Marie can forget the incredible experience of Sister conducting the Hallelujah Chorus, first in Scranton, then in Detroit, and gloriously at the St. Louis Cathedral, leading in dynamic fashion the great song of praise of 4,000 musicians singing from the depths of their faith. Everyone at NPM who ever met her will remember her in their prayers.
Tribute prepared by NPM president, Fr. Virgil Funk, published in Pastoral Music, February-March, 1999, pg. 10. Reprinted with permission.