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-10 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

August 4, 2020

Hello everyone!

Thank you everyone for your continued prayers and support as I recover. A lot of you have sent me emails, cards, and even your favorite music over the past few weeks, and I can't tell you how much it has all bolstered my spirits so much. I’m making more and more progress every week, and now I’m starting to do some unassisted walking around the house. It felt SO good to be back with you at Mass this past Sunday! I can’t wait to see more of you as the summer wears on, and hopefully I’ll be moving a bit more normally with every passing week.

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

- The McGraw Family

- Carl and Viola Nagel

- Fr. Paulson, Fr. Timoney, Fr. Lee, 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

- For the intercession of St. John Vianney, patron saint of parish priests and confessors, whose memorial we celebrate today. Let us pray for more vocations to the priesthood, and let us also pray for our family in faith at St. John Vianney Parish in Walnut Creek as they celebrate their namesake saint today.

This Weekend's Readings and Musical Meditation


For the full text of the readings, click here.

First Reading: 1 Kings 19:9, 11-13

Elijah the prophet heard the Lord’s voice not in wind, not in an earthquake nor in fire, but in a tiny whisper. When he heard the Lord, Elijah hid his face in his cloak, overcome with awe.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 85

"Lord, let us see your kindness, and grant us your salvation.”

Second Reading: Romans 9:10-14

Paul wrote that he would willingly accept being separated from the Christ for the sake of his fellow Israelites, from whom came the Messiah.

Gospel: Matthew 14:22-33

Jesus walked on the water, he called to Peter in the boat with the other disciples. Peter stepped out on the water until his faith faltered and he began to sink. Then Jesus stretched out his hand to save Peter.

Musical Meditation: "Stand By Me" (Tom Kendzia)

When I was a child listening to this Gospel story for the first time, I remember being in awe of Jesus walking on water. I got so swept up in the power of God that I forgot to pay attention to the real hero of the story - Peter, the disciple who was called to join Jesus on the water. We know Peter now as the first Pope, the leader of the Catholic Church designated to be Jesus' presence for his flock here on Earth. What we learn of Peter in this story shows us that to doubt is human, but to have faith and move through trials by trusting in the Lord is to know the Lord.

"Stand By Me" is a wonderful song by Tom Kendzia that encourages us to channel Peter's feelings and trust in the Lord amidst the trials of our own lives. This is a song that I will play/sing through on my own when I need a visceral reminder that I never face any hardship alone, and I always find that it comes into my life at exactly the right time. Like last week's "Come To The Water", the gospel style of "Stand By Me" gives the song an uplifting characteristic that's hard to put into words. You just have to feel it and let the Holy Spirit move through you. When you listen to the YouTube clip linked above, listen especially for ValLimar Jansen in the second verse! ValLimar Jansen is an accomplished singer and composer who is a frequent fixture at major Catholic conventions like RECongress in Los Angeles and the annual NPM convention. If you're not familiar with her voice or her music, I encourage you to look her up on YouTube or her website and take a listen!

Maria's Kitchen Corner

There's something about a steak dinner that feels fancy and elevated, but I firmly believe that a good steak doesn't have to be reserved for a weekend or a special occasion. Here's a favorite sliced steak that's easy and fast, and perfect for a weeknight! We put ours over a bed of spring mix, but roasted or pan-fried carrots or a baked potato would also be fantastic side dishes.

The Best Rosemary Garlic Steak (recipe from Vintage Kitchen)

Wine Pairing: Argentine Malbec

There's a saying sommeliers use to find a great wine pairing: "What grows together, goes together". If you're eating Italian food, you can't go wrong with an Italian wine. Same with French food and a delicious French wine. This Argentine-style steak would be delicious with a classic Argentine Malbec - bold, complex, and so very drinkable. Consider this the weeknight version of your all-out Weekend Steak Dinner with Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. A good Malbec from Argentina will offer the same kind of full-bodied appeal that a Napa Valley Cab offers, but at less than $20 for a nice bottle of Argentine Malbec (like this one), it's a great way to elevate a weeknight meal without breaking the bank.

That's all I have for now. Can't wait to see you all on Sunday!

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)