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

January 19, 2021

Hello everyone!

Even though the calendar insists that it’s January, the balmy sunshine makes it feel a little bit like spring.  I’ve never been one to run outside on sunny days, but with shelter-in-place orders still in effect, I now crave my daily walks to Starbucks with Enrico.  While I’m decidedly a fall weather person (see every newsletter intro from September to November), he practically runs on ristretto Americanos and sunshine.  Just about every time we walk outside, the first words out of his mouth are, “Wow, the weather is beautiful today!  Isn’t God great?”  His appreciation for the sunshine has made me thankful for my surroundings, and I’m so grateful to see the world through his eyes for a little moment every day.

Thank you for all of the great feedback on this newsletter! I’m so glad that you’re getting a lot out of the musical meditations and the weekly recipes/wine recommendations.  It fills me with so much joy to know that we are connected in some way through this era of social distance.  If you have any favorite recipes or wines to share with me, I’m down to try them!

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 Angelo Lamola (he is now home, so we offer prayers of thanksgiving and continue to pray for his speedy recovery)

*  Healing prayers for Vona Lorenzana

*  Healing prayers for Enrico Banson, Sr.

St. Agnes, Virgin, Martyr, and patron saint of girls, pray for us!

St. Stephen, pray for us!

This Weekend’s Readings and Musical Meditations


For the full text of the readings, click here.

Para leer las lecturas en español, haz click aquí.

First Reading: Jonah 3:1-5, 10

Jonah told the Ninevites that God would destroy Nineveh because of their wickedness.  They repented.  God relented and did not destroy their city.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 25

"Teach me your ways, O Lord, teach me your ways."

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 7:29-31

Paul warned the Corinthians of the shortness of time because the world is passing away.  They should, therefore, conduct themselves accordingly.

Gospel: Mark 1:14-20

Jesus appeared in Galilee preaching the good news and instructing the people: “This is the time of fulfillment.  The kingdom of God is at hand.  Repent, and believe in the gospel.”

Musical Meditation/Meditación Musical: “Pescador de Hombres” (Cesareo Gabaráin)

In these first few weeks of Ordinary Time, Jesus is calling us to set aside our worldly cares and follow him.  Last week, it was Peter who was called by name to be by Jesus’ side.  This Sunday, it is Simon, Andrew, James, and John who are called to abandon their work as fishermen and instead become “fishers of men”.  As Jesus approaches each of these apostles, the routine of their everyday lives becomes less important than the call to begin a journey of discipleship and discernment that will impact the lives of countless people for the rest of time.

I firmly believe in the power of liturgical music.  When used judiciously, it has the ability to turn hearts and minds towards God while reinforcing the Gospel message.  As a young music minister, I was told, “People walk away from Mass talking about the Homily and the music.  If the Homily puts the Gospel in people’s minds, the music needs to put the Gospel in people’s hearts”.  In many ways, liturgical music calls to people and permeates into their souls just as easily as Jesus approached the apostles on the Sea of Galilee.  It is my hope that every time you come to Mass, you understand how each hymn and sung prayer illustrates our faith in a way that only music can express.

This week, “Pescador de Hombres” puts that call to discipleship in our minds and our hearts.  The title literally translates to “Fishers of Men”, and while we never sing those words within the song itself, Basque composer Cesareo Gabaráin sets the scene with text that paints a portrait of Jesus as the ultimate Fisher of Men.  In the verses, Jesus is not selecting “the rich or the wise”, but everyday working people who had the ability to touch the lives of others and spread the Gospel.  Every time we sing that soaring refrain, we proclaim God’s ability to see into our souls and welcome us into His loving embrace.  “Pescador de Hombres” is without a doubt the most popular hymn written by Fr. Gabaráin, but it is worth noting that he wrote over 250 songs (the vast majority of which were specifically written for liturgy) before his passing in 1991.  As we sing, pray, and rejoice in God’s love for us this weekend, let us remember Fr. Gabaráin - a fisher of men through his powerful music - and the call to discipleship that we receive every week in sung and spoken prayer.

Maria’s Kitchen Corner

I’m starting 2021 with a whole lot of gratitude and a cellar full of wine, thanks to all of you!  One of the best things about being a sommelier-in-training is the amount of wine that is gifted to me, especially around the holidays.  In the coming weeks, I’m going to focus on the bottles that have recently come into the house, and I’ll be offering some pairing suggestions that have enhanced my enjoyment of these wines.  A hearty thank you once again to all of you for enabling my hobbies of food and wine!

Wine of the Week: NV Stony Ridge Malvasia Bianca Sparkling Wine

Last year, Chris and Walter Lang kindly gifted me a Malvasia Bianca from Stony Ridge Winery that rocked my world and made me a fan of this new-to-me varietal (for my review, see the October 6 edition of The Cecilian).  For Christmas, Chris and Walter bestowed upon me the sparkling version of the same wine, also a product of Stony Ridge in Livermore.  The fragrant florals that were so pronounced in the still version play a supporting role here, giving way to some delicious caramelized peach and nectarine notes.  There’s a backbone of zingy orange zest on the finish, which echoes the backbone of orange blossom in this sparkler’s sister wine.  I highly recommend this local stunner as a partner for light, fruit-based appetizers and desserts, but it’s also delicious as a sparkling wine to toast a special occasion (or just Tuesday).  Many thanks to the Langs for this delicious domestic sparkling wine!

Pair It With: Prosciutto and cantaloupe, creme brûlée, Belgian waffles with blueberries and whipped cream

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)