Rev. Dr. Virgil C. Funk founded the National Association of Pastoral Musicians in 1976. Born in La Crosse, Wisconsin, on July 25, 1937, the fourth child of Virgil C. Funk, Sr., and Grace Hundley Funk, he was raised in Northern Virginia. Virgil entered St. Charles Seminary in Catonsville, Maryland in 1950. At. St. Mary Seminary on Paca Street in Baltimore, he was a member of the choir directed by Rev. Eugene Walsh, PSS, and during theology studies at St. Mary Seminary, Roland Park, he studied under and was librarian for Rev. Raymond Brown, PSS. Ordained to the presbyterate for the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, in 1963, Father Funk served as associate pastor and parish pastor. In 1969, he earned a master’s degree in social work from The Catholic University of America, with a specialization in community organization. He founded and served as executive director of the Richmond Diocesan Office of Social Ministry, and he was also the director of Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Richmond, during which time he oversaw the construction of two homes for the aged and a low-income housing project. From 1974 to 1976, Father Funk was the executive director of The Liturgical Conference, headquartered in Washington, DC, and in 1976 he formed the National Association of Pastoral Musicians. Father Funk became a significant leader in the postconciliar liturgical renewal through his founding membership in the North American Academy of Liturgy and as an English-language member of the Presidium of Universa Laus, an international study group for liturgical music, founded in Lugano, Switzerland in 1966. Father Funk founded The Pastoral Press in 1985 as a resource for scholarly resources in pastoral liturgy and music and as a reliable resource for the liturgical renewal. He was honored for his work in liturgical renewal in 1996 with a doctorate honoris causa from St. Joseph College, Rensselaer, Indiana. In 2001, after twenty-five years of successful (and often particularly challenging) work leading and building the association, he retired from his role as NPM’s founder, first president, and chief executive officer as well as from active priestly minister. He currently lives in retirement in Portland, Oregon, where he continues to write on liturgical-musical topics and advise those who have followed him in leadership positions in NPM.


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