Psalm 57 reads, “My heart, O God, is steadfast, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music.” Carl England has certainly shown a steadfast heart during his 45 years of music ministry with the Catholic Church.
Carl can remember clearly the Thursday in April 1971, when his homeroom teacher, Br. Ron Gagnon, needed someone who knew how to play guitar for a Mass at St. Terrence Church in Alsip. “Someone told him that I knew how to play, so he asked me if I could help him out. I agreed and he gave me a list of music, some of which I had never heard before,” Carl recalled. “I had about an hour after school to learn the music. The offertory song was Take Our Bread. I was so lost that the priest stopped me and had me start over. That was the first mass I ever played for, and I'm still playing in church to this day,” he said.
Carl stepped up when he was needed in that situation, and has continued to do so, being a fixture of music ministry on the South Side. “Over the years I've regularly played at St. Terrence, St. Linus, St. Gerald, St Lawrence O'Toole, Little Company of Mary Hospital, and Oak Forest Hospital,” Carl said. He also played for fundraisers when needed.
Carl has been a committed volunteer for Marist’s deceased alumni Mass, too, singing at the annual mass for many years, and bringing in the choir from St. Linus to help. “I don't even know how many years it's been that we've been doing it. It's just a part of us now,” he said. It is a meaningful liturgy for him, as his brothers Scott ’75 and Gregory have both passed away.
“I figured out early on that if you are involved in something like the music ministry, you put more effort into your faith and you get more out of it,” Carl explained. “It doesn't matter what it is as long as you're involved. Look at who your friends are. It's usually people who are committed to something,” he went on to say. “I have lifelong friends because of playing music in church.”
After Marist, Carl earned his associate’s degree from Moraine Valley Community college. Since 1971, he’s worked part or full time for an awning company, and the for the last 20 years he has worked full time as an aircraft mechanic for American Airlines.
Carl has also been involved with the Boy Scouts for 18 years. He is an assistant Scoutmaster for Troop 619 in Oak Lawn. He has also volunteered at Owasippe Scout Reservation in Michigan for 13 years doing fiberglass repair on boats. “I get to work with a great bunch of dedicated young people at camp,” he said. “I've also had the pleasure of working on staff several times with both my sons, at the same time. As I get older, I hope the younger people working camp see my work ethic and learn from it. Someday they will be in my position and can look back at what they've done and say they did their best to pass traditions along as I've tried to do.” Three generations of his family have been campers there.
Carl and his wife live in Oak Lawn, and have three children Christine, Russell, and Edward. They are enjoying time with their first grandchild.