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

November 24, 2020

Hello everyone!

It's the Tuesday of Thanksgiving week, and I'm starting to feel the hustle and bustle of the holiday season drawing closer! Even with most of us staying home and enjoying small gatherings, there's a certain business that comes with the preparations for this season of gratitude, warmth, and wonder. Fortunately, I'm surrounded by lots of great people (and a great God) who remind me of how grateful I am to be here right now - a roof over my head, plenty of food in the kitchen for myself and my family, a fantastic team of fellow Catholics at both St. Stephen's and Christ The King, the gift of a vibrant new Spanish community at my home parish, and most of all, time spent with the people I love.

On a side note, it's the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, and there's nary a cinnamon stick to be found. I've tried three different grocery stores already, and everybody keeps hoarding them like toilet paper. If you happen to have one single solitary cinnamon stick you can lend for my cranberry sauce, I will happily bring you a bottle of wine in addition to a jar of the finished cranberry sauce. Seriously. Whole Foods is tired of me calling and asking when they'll have more in stock. Email me ASAP and you will be handsomely rewarded on earth as it is in heaven.

Around The Diocese

- This Thursday, November 26, we'll celebrate a special outdoor Thanksgiving Day Mass at 9:30 AM. The altar will be in a new spot under the awning by the main entrance of the church, so park accordingly. I'll be hiding behind the big glass doors (next to a conveniently placed space heater), but you'll be able to hear me from anywhere in the parking lot. Make sure to bring your Thanksgiving bread and wine for a special blessing, too! 

- Mark your calendars: Our next NPM Oakland chapter meeting will be Monday, December 7 at 6:30 PM via Zoom. We'll be profiling a few Spanish speaking communities from the Diocese of Oakland, and how cultural traditions like Our Lady of Guadalupe and Simbang Gabi enhance our understanding of our Catholic faith.

Fun Things To Watch/Read

- Chris Lang found a great set of Advent prayers from Creighton University. These are very short prayers that you can incorporate into your day. Stay tuned for additional Advent prayers and meditations coming your way.

Deacon John recommended Ode To St. Cecilia, a radio play about the life of the patron saint of music. You can watch/listen to it on FORMED (the unofficial Catholic Netflix). I'll have this on while I'm cooking over the next few days, and I can't wait to hear Haley Atwell (Marvel's Agent Carter) as Saint Cecilia! If you don't already have a FORMED account, email me and I'll give you instructions on how to set it up for free through CTK/St. Stephen's Churches. In the meanwhile, check out the trailer here.

This Weekend's Readings and Musical Meditation


For the full text of the readings, click here.

Para leer las lecturas en español, haz click aquí

First Reading: Isaiah 63:16-17, 19; 64:2-7

Isaiah prophesied, “All our good deeds are like polluted rags; we have all withered like leaves… We are the clay and you are the pooter: we are the work of your hands.”

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 80

"Lord, make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved."

Second Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:3-9

Paul wrote, “God is faithful, and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. You are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Gospel: Mark 13:33-37

Jesus said, “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come… Watch, therefore” whether at sunset, midnight, cock crow, or sunrise. "Watch!”

Musical Meditation: "Come, Lord! Maranatha" (Fr. Ricky Manalo, CSP)

As we begin the Advent season and the new liturgical year, I'd like to take a moment to examine some of the songs we'll repeat throughout the next four weeks. For the St. Stephen's community, we usually begin our Advent Masses with Fr. Ricky Manalo's gem of an Advent song, "Come, Lord! Maranatha". 

The haunting melody evokes the familiar strains of "O Come, O Come Emmanuel", setting the tone for a season of yearning and waiting for the Lord. Once you've heard the melody, it's easy to pick up. My favorite part of this song, however, is the collection of verses. I always trust a composer/clergyperson to write music that is liturgically resonant in addition to being musically beautiful, and Fr. Ricky Manalo is the best example of someone who thoughtfully puts the word of God to music. There is a set of verses for each of the four weeks of Advent, and each of these sixteen verses evoke a different sentiment. In this interview, Fr. Ricky explains how one of his role models, esteemed musical theatre composer Stephen Sondheim, taught him how to use (but not overuse) specific repetitions of phrases, notes, and even text to bring attention to something specific. I find that to be true in "Come, Lord! Maranatha!" - sixteen verses for four weeks of Advent that all embody the yearning for the coming of the Lord, and yet specific in individual characteristics we want to change within ourselves to make it happen. When we arrive at the Fourth Sunday of Advent, the verses place a specific emphasis on the many titles of Jesus, and each reference to the O Antiphons is so powerful. 

Meditación Musical: "Preparen El Camino" (Fernando Rodríguez) 

On the Spanish side of things, the song we'll use to anchor the season of Advent is the closing song for all four weeks - "Preparen El Camino". If you've been listening to the Spanish musical meditations for the last few weeks, you might assume that Spanish music has no chill (and you're right). Even in Advent, there's a decidedly joyful tone to this reflective season, as if there's something really good simmering for four weeks until it all comes to a jubilant peak on Christmas. 

"Preparen El Camino" translates to "Prepare The Way", which is more than familiar to us in this time of Advent. The refrain for this catchy song simply repeats the phrase of the season over and over again until you have no choice but to sing along and prepare the way of the Lord for yourself. Aha! Now we know the real reason for all the catchy tunes! Take a listen to this song as we begin the new liturgical year, and I dare you not to sing along by the end.

Maria's Kitchen Corner

This week, you get a special recipe and wine pairing for your Thanksgiving table! I've made this stuffing for the last seven years, and I look forward to it every single time. It looks like a lot of stuffing (okay, it is a lot of stuffing), but it will go fast! To ease up on the cooking on Thursday, I usually make it the day before as I pour myself a glass of wine and put on a movie. Just remember to put it in the oven for a few minutes before serving, and you're good to go. I dare you not to eat the entire thing all at once!

Bread SRSLY Sourdough Stuffing

Serves 16


- 2 loaves Bread SRSLY gluten free classic sourdough, cut into 1" cubes

- 12.5 tablespoons unsalted butter (plus a little extra for the pan)

- 5 ribs of celery, chopped

- 2 medium yellow onions, minced

- 1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced

- 3 tablespoons fresh sage, minced

- 3 tablespoons fresh thyme, minced

- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced

- 5 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth

- 4 eggs, lightly beaten

- 2 teaspoons salt

- 2 teaspoons pepper


- If you're using store-bought broth, pour the broth into a small saucepan with 1 medium yellow onion (quartered), 2 ribs of celery (quartered), 2 carrots (quartered), 8 black peppercorns, 3 cloves garlic (slightly crushed), and 1 bay leaf. Bring to boil, then immediately reduce to a simmer. Remove from heat after 20 minutes and let it cool slightly before mixing it with the other ingredients (don't let it bake the eggs!). If too much liquid is lost, add more broth or water.

- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Spread bread cubes out evenly on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes, or until they're toasty to the touch (as in, crisp but not golden). Remove from the oven and let them cool. Turn the oven up to 400 degrees and grease a 15"x10" metal baking pan. Set aside.

- In a large skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the chopped onions and celery and sauté for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables start to soften. Add the chopped herbs. Sauté for one minute, remove from heat.

- Toss together the sautéed vegetables and herbs with the broth, eggs, bread cubes, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl, combine until the bread cubes are evenly coated. Pour the stuffing into the metal pan and cover with a sheet of aluminum foil. Bake for 25 minutes, then remove the foil and give the stuffing a quick stir to redistribute the moisture. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes, or until the tips of the bread cubes start to golden.

- After you remove the stuffing from the oven, let it cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. If you want to make the dish in advance, partially bake the stuffing and save the last 30 minutes for later. Or finish baking the stuffing, and right before you're ready to serve it, cover it with foil and pop it in a preheated oven (around 300 degrees) for 5-10 minutes.

Wine Pairing: 2019 Banyan Gewürztraminer

Thanksgiving is both a glorious time and a frustrating time for wine enthusiasts and home chefs. Ideally, you want a wine that goes with all the food on your plate, and you want something that's memorable enough to stand out on its own even when you don't drink it with food. Of course, when there's a small crowd to toast, you want to account for one bottle of wine per 1-2 people, so something budget-friendly tends to help, too.

Enter one of my favorite white wines, and one of the must underrated varietals: Gewürztraminer! Fun to say and easy to drink, Gewürztraminer can feature some pretty intense floral and fruity notes, which commands the drinker's attention at first smell/sip. Fortunately, drier wines will be acidic enough to pair well with turkey and stuffing. Kenny Likitprakong, the Thai-American winemaker behind this Banyan Gewürztraminer, uses grapes from Monterey to ensure enough acidity and make this an ideal food wine, especially for spicy Thai and Chinese cuisine. The best part? I found this wine for $13 at Vintage Berkeley, one of my favorite local wine stores that specializes in hard-to-find gems that are easy on the wallet. I can't wait to have this wine blessed by our favorite Thai priest on Thursday (hello, Fr. Lee)!

That's all I have for you today. Happy Thanksgiving! Can't wait to see you all this weekend.

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)