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

September, 2021

Hello everyone!

As we begin the month of September, this is usually about the time I start sounding like a Nora Ephron character - waxing poetic about the crisp winds of fall, freshly sharpened pencils, everything pumpkin spice, and the beginning of the choral season.  Well, we are still very much in the throes of a global pandemic, so while I am sipping the first pumpkin spice lattes of the season and sharpening my pencils, climate change has kept the blistering summer heat around for a little longer, and we are still unable to gather together as a choir.  It makes me sad to know that it’s still unsafe for us to sing together in close quarters, but I know that all of this waiting and patience will be rewarded tenfold when we can eventually reconvene.

In the meanwhile, I have some very exciting news to share…  As many of you know, I’ve been studying for my American Wine Expert exam for a while now.  After some intense studying (and way too many flash cards), I’m proud to announce that I passed my exam and I am now a certified American Wine Expert!  Studying wine has become a wonderful outlet for me, and I’m so thankful to all of you for sharing your words of encouragement and your favorite wines with me.  The wine certification bug has bit, so look for more wine content coming soon!

Prayers of the Faithful

If you have any specific prayer requests, or if you see something that looks out of date, please email me and they will be included in the next newsletter.

Let's hold the following people in prayer this week:

*  Fr. Paulson, Fr. Lee, Fr. Timoney, Fr. Moran, Fr. Tom Joseph, 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 Carl Nagel, Vona Lorenzana's sister-in-law, Enrico Banson, Sr., Janet Bordon, Tony Romano, and Helen Vierra

*  For all of our loved ones who have died.  Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon them.

St. Stephen, our parish patron and patron saint of deacons, pray for us!

Pope Saint Gregory the Great, patron saint of musicians, pray for us!

St. Hildegard of Bingen, Doctor of the Church and patron saint of ecology, pray for us!

St. Robert Bellarmine, patron saint of catechists, pray for us!

St. Vincent de Paul, patron saint of charities, pray for us!

St. Teresa of Calcutta, patron saint of the Missionaries of Charity, pray for us!

This Month’s Readings and Musical Meditations

23rd SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME - September 4-5, 2021

"He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak."

For the full text of the readings, click here.

Prelude/Musical Meditation: “Blessed and Beloved” (Lourdes Montgomery)

24th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME - September 11-12, 2021

"You are the Christ... the Son of Man must suffer greatly."

For the full text of the readings, click here.

Prelude/Musical Meditation: “Take Up Your Cross” (Jaime Cortez)

25th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME - September 18-19, 2021

"The Son of Man is to be handed over... Whoever wishes to be first will be the servant of all."

For the full text of the readings, click here.

Prelude/Musical Meditation: “Pan de Vida” (Bob Hurd/Pia Moriarty)

26th SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME - September 25-26, 2021

"Whoever is not against us is for us.  If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off."

For the full text of the readings, click here.

Prelude/Musical Meditation: “If God Is For Us” (Grayson Warren Brown)

Musical Meditations

For all the great songs that include the Beatitudes text we have in English, there is a surprising dearth of Beatitudes songs in Spanish.  Lourdes Montgomery solved that problem when she wrote "Bienaventurados” in 2004, and the world quickly embraced her song as the ultimate Beatitudes song for the Spanish-speaking community.  "Bienaventurados” has been sung everywhere, from Montgomery's home parishes in Miami and Arkansas to a Papal Mass for Pope Benedict XVI in Washington, D.C.  It is now widely considered to be a gem in the Spanish liturgical music repertoire and thanks to a new English translation by Diana Macalintal, it promises to stay in the core repertoire for bilingual parishes around the world.

In the middle of September, we’ll hear two Gospels that emphasize the role of the Holy Cross in our lives as disciples of Christ.  Considering that the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross comes up on September 14, it makes sense that the symbolism of the Cross would weave its way into the weekend liturgies around the same time.  Jaime Cortez’s “Take Up Your Cross” has a catchy but contemplative refrain that’s easy to pick up, with Verse 1 especially poignant in the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time and Verse 2 summarizing the Gospel message of the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time.  We’ll sing this song during the Presentation of the Gifts both weeks.

The service theme of the Gospel for the 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time is also underlined in the Communion hymn for that week - Bob Hurd and Pia Moriarty’s bilingual classic “Pan de Vida”.  With text that reminds us that “at this table, the last shall be first”, the sacrifice of Christ becomes real.  Everything that Jesus embodies in the Eucharist is sung about and shared at the moment we receive Jesus through the Blessed Sacrament.

Finally, in the last weekend of September, we bring back a Prelude that has been well-loved by our congregation, but will be heard for the first time at Christ The King: “If God Is For Us”, a soaring gospel ballad by the incomparable Grayson Warren Brown.  Based on text from Romans 8, the stirring blues chords lift up a text that is so simple yet powerful: “If God is on our side, what can we be denied?”.

Maria’s Kitchen Corner

Let’s be real, I wasn’t making as many gourmet meals in the last month of my exam studies.  It’s been a steady rotation of boxed mac and cheese over here as I pounded the names of 249 American Viticultural Areas into my head.  That being said, I did taste a lot of great wine lately.  Here are two of my favorites:

White Wine: 2019 Muirwood Vineyards Chardonnay

If you know me, you know that I can get picky about my Chardonnay.  I like my Chardonnays with little to no oak influence and a bright, almost mineral character, which is why I usually opt for Chablis or Pouilly-Fuissé.  It takes a true unicorn for me to rave about a domestic Chardonnay, but I have found one that is worth sharing: the Muirwood Vineyards Chardonnay from the Arroyo Seco AVA in Monterey.  With abundant tropical fruits like guava and ripe mango on the nose and just a hint of vanilla bean on the palate, this wine has the food-friendly acidity of a much lighter bodied wine.  At $15 a bottle, this is a steal of a weeknight sipper.

Pair it with: Hawaiian pizza, chicken tacos, chips with mango habañero salsa

Red Wine: 2015 Au Bon Climat Pinot Noir La Bauge Au-dessus

If you haven’t tried Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara, stop what you’re doing, pick up this bottle, and go watch the movie Sideways.  Despite the undeserved rant against Merlot, Paul Giamatti was right about Santa Barbara Pinot Noir - it’s unlike anything else in California.  The one name synonymous with this grape from this region is Au Bon Climat, and for good reason.  Here is a Pinot Noir that is earthy enough to give some weight to a good charcuterie plate, yet bursting with some wild strawberry notes on the palate that make it a fine partner to heavier fall comfort foods.

Pair it with: Chile verde, garlic fries, charcuterie boards with pancetta and prosciutto

That’s all from me for now.  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)