Maureen and Bill Hayes celebrated their retirement at St. Clare’s Church recently with family and friends.
Maureen and Bill Hayes celebrated their retirement at St. Clare’s Church recently with family and friends.
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Bill and Maureen Hayes have lived a life of music. 

They have written and composed award-winning songs in their 35 years of music ministry, including the past 18 years at St. Clare’s Church in Albany, and have even sung for the Pope! 

Even though they are retiring, their musical legacy will live on.

 The couple’s musical melody goes back to St. Louis, Mo., where Bill and Maureen met at Webster University. Bill was studying composition and theory, while Maureen was studying vocal performance and pedagogy. They would date, eventually get married, and come back to Latham where Maureen was born. Throughout their 42-year marriage, the duo performed in public ministry together. 

They started performing at a variety of churches in Cohoes for eight years. Then, St. Ambrose in Latham for another eight years, before landing at St. Clare’s, where they have performed for the past 18 years. Maureen describes their music as Contemporary Christian, with praise and worship as their background. 

“Now we’re as Paul McCartney put it, ‘Grandudes,’ ” Maureen adds, referencing McCartney’s new children’s book, “Hey, Grandude!” 

During their time at St. Ambrose, the two were invited to perform at World Youth Day at the Vatican in 2000. “So we got to sing for the pope!” Maureen said.

Both of them sang and played the piano and organ while at St. Ambrose with Bill composing the songs to fit each “theme” the season brought for the parish. 

Bill’s compositions and recordings have received acclaim from his peers in music ministry.

He has won two Unity awards for Liturgical Song of the Year from Heartbeat Records for Catholic recordings: “I Am The Resurrection,” in 2004 and “Living Bread,” in 2005, and was nominated in 2006 for “Blessed Be God, Forever.”

The move from St. Ambrose to St. Clare’s also came at the perfect time.

“In 2005, I had what (doctors) said was an exacerbation, which is what they call a sudden loss in ability, and that’s when I had to start using canes,” Bill said. By the end of 2006, he went into a wheelchair permanently. 

“It’s kind of like God moved us at the right time from St. Ambrose to St. Clare because if we stayed at St. Ambrose he’d have to leave,” Maureen added.

St. Clare’s has no steps and a flat entry and the church made additional accommodations for Bill, installing automatic doors and building a special ramp to transport him from the aisle to the altar steps. They had his keyboard connected to the church’s organ, using a musical interval digital interface device (MIDI), so he could play both instruments simultaneously without having to physically be at the organ. 

“It was like the perfect place if you had to go in a chair, it was the perfect place to be,” Bill said. 

Just because they are retiring, don’t think that Bill and Maureen won’t stay busy, however.

Bill, who wrote songs adapted from psalms and compositions out of necessity to contribute to Mass, is working on a three-year project using psalms as lyrics instead of adaptations. Bill’s website, hayesmusicpublishing.com, is set up with each composition categorized according to its purpose: “responsorial psalms” by date or song, sheet music, and liturgical songs are available to the public. 

Maureen has taught at various schools throughout the Albany Diocese as a music teacher, and in 1998, the two would open their own business, Hayes Recording Studio, built on the first floor of their home. It was there Maureen took on individual clients for vocal lessons, often working in conjunction with Ears, Nose, Throat (ENT) patients suffering from vocal dysfunction. Maureen helped them get their voice back, and she won’t stop doing that in retirement.

“I’m still gonna be at (Our Lady of) Assumption in Latham and I’ll still be teaching here at my studio,” said Maureen, who sings and plays the keyboard at the church. “I always say I’ll teach until nobody will come anymore.” 

In 2008, Bill and Maureen used their recording studio to record their podcast “On the Journey” on WDCD (1540-AM). While their show ran for about a year, the two gave all their footage, including their original musical recordings and rosaries, to parishioners at St. Edward the Confessor Church in Clifton Park so it could be used on Word of Peace and Goodness, a Catholic radio station based out of Bethlehem. The two also performed on Backstage, a weekly program run on EWTN to showcase talented Catholic musicians. 

“We know this is God’s time for (Bill) to stop. You always have to be present to what you feel you’re being led to do,” Maureen said, “Going into retirement my mantra is He’s always taken care of us, He’s not gonna stop now.”