Pastoral Musicians

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 part of the Center for Worship & Spirituality, the Villanova Pastoral Musicians serve a vital role in ministering to the campus community. Through our efforts, we seek to inspire meditation on the beauty and mystery of God, as experienced through musical expression and worship. Our mission is achieved through the group’s primary responsibility: providing musical leadership for the University’s Sunday evening masses. In this setting, we lead congregational singing through traditional hymnody and modern song, and present the great works of the treasury of sacred music. 

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. The Villanova Pastoral Musicians also serve the wider University and Church community through outreach initiatives and performance pilgrimages.

Singers are always welcome to join, and there are spots available in each voice section. The ability to read music is a welcome skill, but not required for membership. In fact, sight reading and other musical skills will likely improve during your time with us!

Cantors lead congregational song and psalmists proclaim the responsorial psalm during the Liturgy of the Word. Participation in these roles is determined by separate application and audition.

Students who play an instrument are welcome to join the Pastoral Musicians. Because we are responsible for weekly liturgies, intermediate music-reading skills will help instrumentalists be most successful. Our group currently includes instruments from the string, woodwind, brass and percussion families. We work together as an ensemble to achieve the best sound, whether working with the singers or offering our own instrumental works.

Students who have intermediate/advanced piano/keyboard skills are needed to assist with whole group rehearsals, sectionals, and ensemble leadership at the Sunday evening 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 accompany Sunday liturgies.

Thank you for considering membership in the Villanova Pastoral Musicians! Students who wish to participate are invited to come to any rehearsal for more information.  Information can be obtained by contacting the Campus Minister for Liturgical Music, Sean McElwee. 

Rehearsals are held 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 required.

  • A 30 minute rehearsal prior to each Mass is required.
  • Members are also expected to arrange their schedules to accommodate various special events (e.g., Orientation Mass, Parents' Weekend, Lessons & Carols, Baccalaureate Mass) which are announced with advanced notice during the academic year.

Caritas is a 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.

Incoming/returning Villanova students who have prior choral and/or orchestral experience, as well as any newcomers who are interested in beginning their experience with this strong training program, are strongly encouraged to consider applying. 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

Program fee

The program fee is $50 for incoming freshmen and $75 for returning students. Among other requirements, this fee helps to provide music training sessions, program materials and a program t shirt. Once you receive notification of acceptance into the program, instructions for payment will be given. Thanks for your interest!

2018 Schedule

Campus Arrival: Monday, August 20, 2018
First Year Students join Orientation: Thursday, August 23, 2018
Returning Students Continue until Sunday, August 26, 2018

Pastoral Musicians are led by 

Looking for information about the St. Thomas Monastary or the province of St. Thomas of Villanova? Visit the website.