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

September 22, 2020

Hello everyone!

The calendar says that today's Autumn Equinox signals the official transition from summer to fall.  Hooray!  Now the rest of the world gets to catch up with cozy sweaters and pumpkin everything!

There's quite a bit happening right now, so I hope the turn of the season brings you ample opportunity for fellowship and formation in Christ.

Around the Diocese

- Congratulations to Fr. Paulson, who has just been appointed to the new Diocese of Oakland Task Force for Racial Justice by Bishop Michael Barber!  The Task Force will be led by Fr. Leo Edgerly Jr. (Pastor, Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Piedmont), and Fr. Paulson will be joined by 18 other representatives from around the diocese, including Christ The King parishioner Kathy Gannon-Briggs.  May this newly formed Task Force bring the demonstrable love of God to all in our diocese and our country.  For more information, click here

- NPM Oakland is gearing up for a Fall Kick-Off event, and you're invited!  Save the date: we will meet via Zoom on Monday, October 5 at 6:30 PM.  We'll talk about what we did as a chapter this summer, meet our new Deanery Captains, see some great virtual choirs from around the diocese, and discuss what's next for us pastoral musicians in the coming months.  See you there!

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:

- Jeanie and the McGraw Family

- Carl, Viola, and Kevin Nagel (Kevin is starting to experience some complications with high blood pressure)

- 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)

- For the repose of the soul of Natalie Russell's brother-in-law, "Uncle Bob", who has died from COVID-19.  Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.

- In remembrance of our friend and fellow chorister Siuta Moala, whose birthday is next Monday (September 28)

This Weekend's Readings and Musical Meditation

26th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME - September 27, 2020

For the full text of the readings, click here.

Para leer las lecturas en español, haz click aquí.

First Reading: Ezekiel 18:25-28

The Lord spoke through Ezekiel: “Hear now, house of Israel:....  If he turns from wickedness he has committed, and does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life.”

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 25

"Remember your mercies, O Lord.”

Second Reading: Philippians 2:1-11

Paul quoted an ancient hymn: “Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.  Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Because of this, God exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every other name.”

Gospel: Matthew 21:28-32

Jesus said that the outcasts enter God’s reign because of faith but not the righteous who lack repentance:  “Tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you.”

Musical Meditation: "Age To Age" (Janet Vogt)

Before I say anything about the music for this week, I highly encourage you to read through the Liturgy of the Word in a very specific way this week - start with the Gospel, then go all the way back to the Entrance Antiphon and read through everything in order through the Communion Antiphon.  The Gospel reminds us that no matter where we are on our faith journey, the most important step is the next step we take towards God.  How many times have we been the first son, shirking our spiritual responsibilities in the moment but eventually finding time for prayer?  As long as the answer is "yes" at some point, we are welcomed into the loving embrace of our Heavenly Father.

Now go back and read through everything else.  How does our perspective on the vineyard story change in the light of all these readings on mercy?  We must remember Jesus' choice to truly embrace his humanity and humble himself through death on a cross.  Because of Jesus' example, all who humble themselves by repenting and asking for mercy will receive it, and all who follow Jesus - no matter who they are or where they come from - will be rewarded in Heaven. 

The music for this weekend follows a similar through-line.  By the time we get to the Closing Song, we have heard what God is charging us to do (ask for mercy and invite Him into our lives a little more than yesterday), and we have received the Holy Eucharist, which gives us the physical and spiritual nourishment we need to pursue holiness in the coming week.  Janet Vogt's "Age To Age" is simple in construction, and yet in its simplicity we find our call to action for the week ahead.  If you listen carefully to the refrain, the middle of each phrase gets incrementally higher, as if to inch one's way towards confidence in God's will ("Age to age, we will love you.  Dawning light, we will wake with you.  Into night, we will follow you.").  By the time we're finished with the Mass this Sunday, I hope you leave feeling invigorated and fed by God's message.

Meditación Musical: "Ven y Sígueme" (Santiago Fernández)

The words "ven y sígueme" translate to "come and follow me", and this call to action is especially prevalent in Spanish language music for the church.  While Carmelo Erdozáin's "Ven y Sígueme" is haunting and lyrical, Santiago Fernández's cumbia-inspired version remains my favorite.  Cumbia is a style of music and accompanying dance that started in Colombia and traveled through most of Latin America before settling into the hearts and feets of Mexicans and Mexican Americans.  I grew up listening to Selena records, so there's a soft spot in my heart for cumbias like her "Techno Cumbia" and "Baila Esta Cumbia".  Needless to say, this "Ven y Sígueme" will inspire you to get up and dance your way to God!

To learn more about this song and composer Santiago Fernández, here's a great article from Panorama Online, a Spanish language publication based in Phoenix.  If you're using a Web browser like Google Chrome, there should be a button that offers an English translation once the website is downloaded.  Enjoy!

Maria's Kitchen Corner

Now that the temperature is dipping a bit (I know, it's gone down from 100 degrees to about 85, but it's still colder!), it's time to bust out my favorite soup recipes.  I made a fresh batch of chicken bone broth in my Instant Pot this afternoon, and the lingering aroma is so comforting.  Fall is here!

This Tortellini Soup was a childhood favorite of mine that I haven't enjoyed since I started to eat gluten free about six years ago.  Fortunately, there's a delicious new gluten free cheese tortellini available at Whole Foods!  You can also substitute your favorite cheese or spinach ravioli in this soup for equally delicious results.  Cozy up with a good book, and get those Dutch ovens simmering!

Maria's Tortellini Soup

Serves 4


- 1 tablespoon olive oil

- 1 pound ground beef

- 1/4 teaspoon salt

- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

- 1 small yellow onion, diced

- 2 garlic cloves, minced

- 2 tablespoons tomato paste

- 4 cups chicken broth

- 1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes

- 1/2 tablespoon fresh basil, cut into chiffonade

- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

- 1 10-oz. package refrigerated cheese tortellini

- 1 16-oz. package frozen green beans, thawed in the refrigerator


- In a stock pot over medium heat, add olive oil.  Once heated, add ground beef and season with salt and pepper.  Distribute into an even layer and allow the beef to brown, undisturbed, until the edges get crispy.  Flip and redistribute, allowing the other side to brown.

- Add diced onion to pan and cook for 4-5 minutes, or until onion begins to turn translucent.  Add garlic, stir, and cook for one additional minute.

- Add tomato paste to onions and garlic, stirring to coat.  Add broth, diced tomatoes, red pepper flakes, basil, oregano, tortellini, and green beans to the pot.  Stir to combine.  If needed, adjust seasonings to taste.

- Remove from heat, ladle into bowls, and serve.

Wine Pairing: Ladro d'Uva "The Grape Thief" Sangiovese

Any time Italian wine is poured, a meal becomes an occasion.  Let's toast to the beginning of fall with this light-bodied Sangiovese from Sicily that perfectly complements - but never distracts from - the heartiness of the tortellini soup.  Look for some notes of cinnamon and clove on the nose, with an earthy cherry compote and some rosemary and dried basil on the palate.  If this particular wine isn't available at your local wine store, ask a sales associate for another Sangiovese from Sicily, or a light-bodied red wine from Italy.

That's all I have for you this week.  Enjoy the beginning of autumn, and I will see you all 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)