Rich Mullins was a giant in the Contemporary Christian Music industry. He had written songs that had become anthems that are still sung in many evangelical churches. Sing Your Praise to The Lord
and Awesome God,
are some of the most well known. He went to be with the Lord as a result of a traffic accident on September 19, 1997.
What is not as well-known is that Rich was on his way to conversion to Catholicism. One of his last albums was called "Liturgy, Legacy and a Ragamuffin Band." In his liner notes Rich explains that it is a concept album mirroring the liturgy; "Cuts 2-6 of this album loosely follow the pattern of a liturgy - a tool used for collective worship. In it there is proclamation, praise, confession of sin, affirmation of faith and celebration of grace." (cf. liner notes on LLRB album 1993). After graduating from college (again)with a BA in music education in 1995, he moved to a Navajo Indian reservation to teach children music. He attended daily mass while there. One of his last works was a musical about the life of Saint Francis basing it in the Great Plains. (Canticle of the Plains)
Three weeks before Rich died, he was staying with a family in Elgin, Illinois in preparation for a recording. The young man whose parents hosted Rich recently wrote to my wife telling us a little about Rich's spirituality. The host mom said jokingly to Rich, "so are you going to worship Mary now?"
Even though Rich was not officially received into the Church before died, his music and theology expressed during his concert chats was clearly Catholic. He believed in baptismal regeneration and did not believe we could be saved by faith alone. (Faith without works is like a screen door on a submarine,
is one of his songs) A priest is on record stating that Rich was going to be received into the Church on September 22nd, 1997. Check it out here
So can a non-Catholic be a saint? Yes, in the sense that we are all going to be saints if/when we get to heaven. Can Rich be the un-official patron saint of dulcimer players? I think so based on the Creed: "I believe in the communion of saints." Rich prays for us, and I believe he, like others in heaven, is now perfected and righteous and his prayers "availeth much." Here's a little tune in honor of the unofficial patron saint of hammer dulcimer players: