Staying connected through Music & Song

St. Stephen’s Chamber Choir

The flagship choir at St. Stephen’s Parish is the Chamber Choir, which provides music for the 9:30 AM Mass on Sundays.  The Chamber Choir frequently sings two, three, and four-part music that ranges in style from traditional hymnody to large choral anthems to new music by today’s foremost Catholic composers.  The ability to read music is not a requirement, but some basics will be learned.  Rehearsals are held every Thursday night at 7 PM in the church.

(Note that rehearsals are currently on hold due to the Covid-19 shutdown.)

Chamber Choir Membership Requirements
- Must demonstrate a desire to serve God through music

Singers of all voice parts are welcome! If you’re interested in joining the St. Stephen’s Music Ministry, please contact Maria Calderazzo.

St. Stephen’s Cantor Ministry

Cantors are considered strong and spirit-filled vocal leaders who command full, active, and conscious participation in the liturgy through song.  Cantor responsibilities include proclaiming the Responsorial psalm and other responses and acclamations as needed, announcing hymn numbers at various parts of the Mass, and occasionally leading hymns solo when the choir is not present.  A good cantor will have the technical ability to learn and execute liturgical music independently as well as the religious understanding and the servant’s heart required to encourage hearty participation.  Cantor auditions are held in May each year, and anyone who has been consistently singing with the Chamber Choir for at least four months may request an audition.

Cantor Requirements
- Must demonstrate a desire to serve God through music
- Must be a current and active member of the Chamber Choir for at least four months
- Must have a basic understanding of music theory and the ability to sight-sing
- Must be able to prepare music individually at home outside of weekly rehearsals and Masses

St. Stephen Music Mission Statement
To build a music ministry that:
- Prayerfully proclaims the word of God and the message of the Catholic Church,
- Possesses the technical musical skills to more beautifully sing our praises,
- Celebrates the diverse ethnic cultures of our Catholic community in an authentic, thoughtful way.

The Cecilian - Newsletter by Maria

March 2, 2021

Hello everyone!

March is here, and with the arrival of a new month comes a healthy dose of sunshine and warmer weather.  Spring is almost upon us! I’m starting to see some flowers start to bloom on bushes that were bare not too long ago.  It’s a sign of what’s to come as we hit the midpoint of Lent - the promise of a risen Lord is about a month away!

There’s an abundance of opportunities to reflect and pray at both St. Stephen and Christ The King this Lent.  I encourage you to take a look at both parish websites and use the resources that are available.  If you have any ideas for further formation and development, or you just want to say hello, you can always send me an email or wave at me through the glass doors of the church on Sunday.  I always appreciate it when you send me your favorite choral clips from YouTube or a digital card.  It’s been almost a year since we’ve gathered together as a choir, and I miss you all.  By the time we are able to gather together again, I hope that all of us will emerge with a stronger relationship with Christ and with each other.  Let’s continue to pray for each other and grow in our own formation so that when we do come back, we come back stronger and better than ever.

Around The Parish

*  A belated happy birthday to Genia Pauplis, who celebrated her 34th(?) birthday last Friday.  Give her a call or send her a quick email, if she hasn’t called you already to check on you!

*  This Saturday, we have our monthly Saturday Vigil Mass at 4 PM.  We had a great group of parishioners join us for the first Saturday Vigil last month, and we look forward to seeing many of you again this Saturday!

*  We have outdoor Stations of the Cross available on the pathway at St. Stephen.  The grounds will be open on Mondays and Wednesdays from 12 - 2 PM, and on Fridays from 12 - 6 PM so that you can safely walk the Stations outdoors.  There is a PDF version of the prayers that accompany each Station, as well as a self-guided audio version, available on our parish website (  You can also listen to the audio and follow along in the PDF packet if you’re not on campus; this is meant to be an easily accessible and prayerful experience.  Many thanks to Chris Lang, who spearheaded this project and created a beautiful PDF packet that includes photos of each of the Stations on campus!

¡Las Estaciones de la Cruz también están disponibles en español!  Hay un paquete en PDF y una versión de audio autoguiada también disponible en el sitio web de la parroquia.  Usa ambos recursos mientras recorre las estaciones aquí en St. Stephen's o en la comodidad de su hogar.

*  The schedule of Masses for Holy Week is now on the parish website.  There are many options for attending services during this time, so take a look.  For additional Mass times at Christ The King, you can go to their website (

Prayers of the Faithful

If you have any specific prayer requests, please email me and they will be included in the next newsletter.

In addition to everyone fighting the coronavirus - patients, their families, first responders, and anyone considered an essential employee - let's hold the following people in prayer this week:

*  Carl, Viola, and Kevin Nagel

*  Fr. Paulson, Fr. Lee, Fr. Timoney, and all the priests in the Diocese of Oakland

*  Our fellow St. Stephen's parishioners and our family in faith at our sister parish, Christ The King

*  Healing prayers for Vona Lorenzana's sister-in-law (terminal lung cancer)

*  Healing prayers for Alison Derby (almost total hearing loss in right ear)

*  Healing prayers for Robert Anuskiewicz (terminal lung disease, awaiting transplant)

*  Healing prayers for Vona Lorenzana

*  Healing prayers for Enrico Banson, Sr.

*  Healing prayers for Tony Romano

*  Healing prayers for Ken Coyne

St. Stephen, pray for us!

St. Katharine Drexel, patron saint of racial justice and philanthropists, pray for us!

This Weekend’s Readings and Musical Meditations

THIRD SUNDAY OF LENT - March 7, 2021

For the full text of the readings, click here.

Para leer las lecturas en español, haz click aquí.

First Reading: Exodus 20:1-17

God delivered the commandments to Moses and the Hebrews, who had been freed from slavery in Egypt.  “You shall not have other gods besides me,” said the Lord God.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 19

"Lord, you have the words of everlasting life."

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:22-25

Paul preached Christ crucified “a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.”  God’s folly is wiser and his weakness stronger than human wisdom.

Gospel: John 2:13-25

Jesus found people buying and selling in the temple.  With a whip he drove out the moneychangers.  He said, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.”

Musical Meditation: “To The Desert Follow Me” (Sarah Hart)

During the season of Lent, I like to come back to the same text/tune a few times throughout these 40 days of contemplation.  It serves as a reminder of where we are on our Lenten journey, both how far we’ve come and how far we have yet to go on our way to growing closer to Christ.  Both of the Musical Meditations today are songs that were originally sung with Ash Wednesday-focused text on Ash Wednesday (“Take These Ashes” and “Con Estas Cenizas, Señor”, respectively), and both songs will continue to serve as checkpoint on our Lenten journeys this season.

The link above is a lyric video that uses Sarah Hart’s original studio recording.  Whenever possible, I find it useful to hear the composer singing their own songs.  It gives me an idea of how the composer hears the song, which is occasionally different from what appears on the page (especially in contemporary Catholic music).  As you know, Sarah Hart is a favorite composer at St. Stephen; the lightly folky lilt in her vocal melodies and her piano-focused arrangements are a great match for our parish.  When I hear Sarah sing “To The Desert Follow Me”, I’m instantly comforted and strong in my resolve to answer God’s call.  This is a great recording to come back to throughout the week and the rest of the Lenten season, but this week, we’ll sing a verse that sends us home with the Gospel message fresh in our minds:

“I will bring beauty from the ruin,

a feast of hope from ash and dust.

This land will bloom just as before.

My saving Word, it is forever.”

May you find Sarah Hart’s words, voice, and music a healing balm during this time of spiritual renewal, and may they continue to comfort as we walk together through the desert with Jesus.

Meditación Musical: “Perdona a Tu Pueblo, Señor” (Lourdes Montgomery)

You know Lourdes Montgomery for her complex, jazz-infused compositions like “Bienaventurados/Blessed and Beloved” and “Hoy Es Día de Fiesta”.  This may seem like a departure from her usual style (and it is, although her signature leaping vocal lines are still here), but what remains the same is her passion for supporting the liturgy through song.  Like “To The Desert Follow Me”, “Perdona a Tu Pueblo, Señor” has an Ash Wednesday-specific refrain that was intended for repetition throughout the Imposition of Ashes.  The “Perdona a Tu Pueblo, Señor” version of the refrain can be used throughout the season of Lent, up until Palm Sunday.  Repetition is again encouraged here; the refrain is easy to pick up, and the verses can be omitted to allow for a Taizé-like chant with accompaniment that ebbs and flows.

Here’s the part that makes this gorgeous song worthy of meditation and sung prayer throughout your week: According to the composer’s notes, Lourdes Montgomery intended for this song to grow each time the refrain is repeated.  She specifically cites Maurice Ravel’s masterful “Bolero” as her chief inspiration.  The melody is constantly repeated, but the instrumentation and the dynamics allow the melody to swell in importance each time it is repeated.  When we add the text?

“Forgive your people, Lord.  Don't hide your face from us.

Forgive your people, Lord, and we will return to you.”

Words to repeat often during this season of reflection.  As you listen to these words and sing along this week, I hope you find the prayer in repetition.

Maria’s Kitchen Corner

In the spirit of Lent, I figured it was appropriate to put some vegetarian and pescaterian recipes in the newsletter.  To be honest, I have quite a few fish recipes in my repertoire, but this Lenten season I’m trying to push myself to try cooking dishes that don’t rely on protein.  If you have a great recipe or suggestion to share, please do!

Today is my father-in-law’s birthday, and he’s a huge fan of Italian food.  This is an easy, meat-free pasta that makes for a light meal on its own, but tonight we’ll cook up some salmon tonight to add some protein.  The options are endless here!

Spaghetti Aglio e Oglio

Serves 6


*  1 package gluten free spaghetti

*  ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil

*  6-8 cloves garlic, finely minced

*  1 tablespoon red pepper flakes

*  2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped


*  Heat a big pot of water.  Add enough salt so the water is “salty like the sea”.  Add pasta and cook according to the directions.  Strain the pasta, reserving the pasta water in a separate container.

*  While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large, shallow skillet on medium heat.  Add the minced garlic and gently stir until the olive oil is perfumed, then add the red pepper flakes.  Keep adding olive oil as needed to release more garlic essence.

*  Add the cooked pasta to the skillet with garlic and olive oil.  Stir to combine, slowly adding pasta water until a thick sauce forms.  Serve immediately.

Wine Pairing: 2018 Prima Materia Zinfandel Bianco

I know what you’re thinking… you’re a self-professed student of wine, and you’re recommending a white Zinfandel?  Hear me out, though.  This is not your average bottle of Sutter Home pink juice.  Prima Materia is a small company with a 12-acre organic, biodynamic vineyard in Lake County.  They specialize in Italian grapes on California soil, introducing us Americans to varietals like Negroamaro and Sagrantino, which are hard to find stateside.  Because production is intentionally small-scale, the good people at Prima Materia are very hands-on, which ensures a high quality wine that can’t be found anywhere else.  Bottom line?  If I’m going to drink a Zinfandel Bianco, I trust that Prima Materia will give me a pink drink that will excite my palate.

Sure enough, this is a crisp rosé that tastes like it came from Provence.  Bursting with acidity and salinity, this is one of the driest wines I’ve ever tasted, which makes it a fantastic partner to the richness of the olive oil and starchy pasta.  Look for dried apricots and bright grapefruit on the palate, with the slightest hint of sweetness (like a fresh apricot) on the finish.  This is a great picnic wine, especially as the weather warms up!

That’s all from me this week.  Take care, and I’ll see you soon!

God bless,


“I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being.” (Psalm 104:33)