Pastoral Musician Program

Don Gianella Pastoral Musicians

"I wept at the beauty of your hymns, and I was powerfully moved at the sweet sound ...Those sounds flowed into my ears, and the truth streamed into my heart."

—St. Augustine, Confessions 9,6

As a part of the Center for Worship, Pastoral Musicians serve an important role in the spiritual lives of Villanova University students. The group’s primary focus is to serve as leader and support of the community’s singing at all three Sunday evening Masses through the goodness, beauty, and mystery of God revealed in music. Our mission is accomplished by presenting both familiar hymns and the great choral works of classical and contemporary composers.

Not only present during liturgy, Pastoral Musicians serve the wider University and church communities by assisting with other campus events, those of the parish of St. Thomas of Villanova, and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia as requested.

Pastoral music at Villanova is an essential component of liturgical celebration. We seek to add delight to prayer, foster unity of minds, and confer greater solemnity upon the sacred rites. Achievement of these goals requires a level of excellence and commitment consistent with the high purpose to which the Church calls us.

Tenors, Bases, Sopranos, Altos (in that order) are always needed. To achieve the proper voice balance, we need two new male recruits for every one female recruit!

Previous choral experience is very helpful, but not required. While we do not require the ability to sight read, our demanding and frequently changing repertoire makes it a highly desirable skill. Section leaders are available to help new members, with little prior choral experience, learn voice parts and sight reading.

At Mass, the group’s cantors lead the congregation in song, and psalmists proclaim the responsorial psalm during the Liturgy of the Word.

A third opportunity is Select Ensemble. This SSAATTBB acapella group is devoted to sacred works from the 16th century to the present. Participation in the ensemble requires an additional rehearsal from 9:00–10:30PM on most Tuesdays.

Participation in any or all of these additional opportunities is determined by separate application and listening session.

Intermediate level skills are a must. Successful members should be able to sight read fairly well, and possibly transpose concert C music into the instrument's key. Instrument lessons are generally not provided.

Currently our group includes:

  • Flute
  • Clarinet
  • Trumpet
  • Violin, Viola
  • Piano, Organ
  • Percussion

Additional Opportunities

Students who have intermediate/advanced piano/keyboard skills are needed to assist with whole group rehearsals, sectionals, and ensemble leadership at the 8pm and 10pm Sunday Masses. If you sight read well, have prior choral/instrumental accompaniment experience, these positions are certainly for you.

Students with advanced piano training will be offered the opportunity to transfer their gifts to the pipe organ. For further information, contact Don Giannella, director.

For More Information

Any member of our student leadership team will be happy to talk with you about joining our group, or you can email Don Giannella directly. 

Students who have intermediate/advanced piano/keyboard skills are needed to assist with whole group rehearsals, sectionals, and ensemble leadership at the 8pm and 10pm Sunday Masses. If you sight read well, have prior choral/instrumental accompaniment experience, these positions are certainly for you.

Students with advanced piano training will be offered the opportunity to transfer their gifts to the pipe organ. For further information, contact Don Giannella, director.

For More Information

Any member of our student leadership team will be happy to talk with you about joining our group, or you can email Don Giannella directly.

Students who wish to participate, either as vocalists or instrumentalists, are invited to come to any rehearsal for more information. Prospective members can complete an application form and schedule listening sessions with the director and student leadership board. Listening sessions involve singing scales, a well-known hymn and a short assessment of sight reading.

Time Commitment

Rehearsals take place on Tuesdays from 5:30–7PM in the St. Thomas of Villanova Church and are mandatory for all members. Participation at one of the three Sunday evening Masses, to which members are specifically assigned, is also obligatory.

  • A 45 minute rehearsal prior to each Mass is required.
  • Members are also expected to arrange their schedules to accommodate various special events which take place during the year (e.g., Orientation Mass, Parents' Weekend, Advent Lessons & Carols, Baccalaureate Mass).

Three teams of two student leaders, are chosen and each pair is assigned to one of the three Sunday Masses. In addition to coordinating participation at Mass, student leaders:

  • implement recruitment and selection procedures
  • maintain the music resource library
  • plan special worship offerings
  • organize retreats and off-campus activities
  • assist with set up for special events
To learn more or find out how you can get involved, email Don Giannella at don.giannella@villanova.edu.

Caritas is a FREE four day music ministry and service experience for incoming Villanova students, as well as a seven day Orientation-focused preparation program for returning Pastoral Musicians. Caritas seeks to develop the spirit and skills of the Villanova Pastoral Musician, prepare repertoire for the upcoming school year, enhance camaraderie among current and new pastoral musicians, and prepare and present music for the Orientation Liturgies and Closing Ceremony.  An off campus skills/ensemble building day will highlight the program.

Villanova students who have prior choral and/or orchestral experience, especially connected to worship are strongly encouraged to consider this program. Students will

  • participate in skills workshops
  • receive repertoire training
  • participate in team building activities
  • engage in leader formation
  • share in spiritual reflection
  • lead music for various Liturgies, including the Closing Ceremony of New Student Orientation
  • move into their rooms on the weekend before the rest of the student body

Getting Involved

Caritas can only accept 20 new students and up to 30 returning students each year.  Admission is rolling and applicants will be informed of their acceptance within two weeks of application. A place-holding deposit of $50 will be accepted for each participant, fully refunded at the end of the Caritas program. A full schedule and further information will be sent to accepted participants.


Pastoral Musicians are lead by 

Social Media Links

Sunday Mass
7:30AM, 10:30AM
5:30PM, 7 & 9PM
St. Thomas of Villanova Church

Saturday Vigil Mass
5:30PM
Corr Chapel

Daily Mass (Mon–Fri)
12:05 & 5:30PM
Corr Chapel  

Sacrament of Reconciliation
3:30–4:30PM Tue & Wed
St. Thomas of Villanova Church  

[610] 519–4080
[610] 519–6020 (fax)
cmcommunication@villanova.edu

St. Rita Hall
800 E. Lancaster Avenue
Villanova, PA 19085

Interested in Getting Involved with Campus Ministry? We offer over 50 programs that are sure to fit every personality and lifestyle!


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In the spirit of St. Augustine, who urged his followers to search for God together, please consider the following reflection. Responding to the Pharisees question of “which commandment in the law is the greatest, Jesus sets forth what appears to be two commandments, but in reality they are both essential parts of the single commandment TO LOVE. Jesus message is clear: to love God is to love other people. They are inseparable. God, ourselves, and others form the triad that is the expression of love. The Exodus reading teaches us that love is expressed in actions, such as compassion, mercy, kindness and forgiveness. If our hearts are open we are freed to love.

Applications are now being accepted for the 2014-2015 academic year. 

Pastoral Musicians Application

Liturgical Ministry Application 
(for new Liturgical Ministers only)

Liturgical Ministry Reapplication 
(for returning Liturgical Ministers only)

Liturgical Council Application

Caritas Application

Homilies available on YouTube

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