St. Mary's music minister retires after 40 years of service
GREENSBORO — For decades, Carl Foster has been a mainstay at St. Mary Church in Greensboro as the parish music minister. Now, after more than 40 years in this role, Foster has retired.
"The Lord knows best," Foster said recently when asked about his decision to retire. "The Lord giveth and He taketh away."
Born in Greensboro in 1926, Foster was born a Baptist but converted to Catholicism in 1958 and has been at St. Mary's ever since.
"I found a liturgy that satisfied my curiosity," Foster said regarding his conversion. "Catholicism really spelled things out for me."
As a member of the music ministry at St. Mary's, one of the priests at the time asked Foster to play the organ at one of the Masses in 1958. However, Foster was not accustomed to playing the organ.
"The father at the time asked me to play the organ, but I told him that I didn't play the organ – I played the piano," Foster said. "But the priest said, 'I need you to play the organ,' so I did." The rest is history.
Following that experience, Foster became the music minister at St. Mary's. Throughout his time in ministry, Foster has served in a number of roles, not only for St. Mary's but for the Diocese of Charlotte including as the coordinator of the diocesan African American Affairs Office for seven years.
Along the way, Foster said, he has also learned a thing or two about the parishioners at St. Mary's.
"The parishioners were always very devoted to the Catholic faith," Foster said. "And they still are devoted to the faith."
Foster is also dedicated to the faith, according to St. Mary's pastor, Father Michael Manh Nguyen.
"Carl is a very faithful member of the church," Nguyen said. "He enjoys music and has set a great example by being so faithful and joyful through his service. He has been very generous to share his gift with us every Sunday to help us praise God better and share the liturgy together."
Throughout his time, Foster said, he has also learned a bit about himself.
"I've learned to be honest with myself and try to do the best I can with the obstacles that seemingly prevent me from reaching my goal – which is to create a better life for all individuals in the parish, myself and my family."
Certainly, Foster has been able to create a better life for members of the parish through his ministry and as a result, was honored by the parish.
"One of my favorite memories was the day St. Mary's honored the musicians," Foster said. "I was very happy that everyone thought enough of what we did here to honor us."
After more than 40 years as music minister at St. Mary's, Foster has certainly learned many things during his time and can pass some advice on to others.
"The influx of other ethnicities has made an impact on the parish and the challenge is being able to bring us all together," Foster said. "We make progress on it every day, and my hope is that we continue to strive for greater unity among parishioners."
— Ryan Murray, correspondent
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