Our parish has always been blessed with a congregation who likes to sing! The main goal for our musicians is to support the congregation to sing and so to participate more fully in our Mass and liturgy.

Up until last year, our weekend celebrations were supported by a combination of organists and the guitar group. Unfortunately, our remaining organists retired from this ministry in 2020 due to ill health, so all music is now provided by our guitar group.

The guitar group was started in 2001 when Kathy felt a calling to add guitar music to our weekend Masses. She approached Deb to join. The group has had various members over the years. We currently have 5 active members who work together to provide the music at all our weekend Masses and other special liturgies.

The obvious activity for our musicians is playing music and leading singing at each of our gatherings, but there is more happening behind the scenes. We arrive before Mass for a run-through and to learn the psalm response for each Mass. Our musos also gather at other times to practice, especially when new songs are being introduced. Most of the hymns you hear each week are selected by the musicians, and this selection process involves considering the scripture readings, church season, special events such as our sacramental program and trying to balance a selection of old favourites with a need to refresh our repertoire over time.

Music is a great source of connectedness and singing together is a wonderful way to express community. It can also be divisive; just ask any classical music fan what they think of rap music! While the choice of music each week can never please everyone, we hope to achieve our main purpose; supporting participation of the congregation in each Mass or liturgy.

The COVID pandemic has affected our ministry. Once church services were allowed to start again, there remained restrictions on singing for many months. We were gradually allowed to have a small choir to sing, but no congregational singing. We took this opportunity to learn and deliver some new music, and we hope some of these new hymns will become “old favourites” in time. As musicians, it is such a wonderful feeling to hear the congregation singing enthusiastically during our liturgies, and we missed this during COVID.

We love this ministry and would welcome anyone young or old that might like to join in. Current member Helen Kearney relates how she “took the plunge”:

After being involved in music ministry for over thirty years in other parishes, I was happy to stay silent for a while when we arrived in our new parish of St Joseph’s Toronto.

Singing along from the congregation was a pleasure with our lovely organists, Netta and Marie with Beth on flute, or the fabulous guitar group!

Eventually …. a few years on… I made myself known to Kathy, Deb and Phil and was blessed to become part of a group of amazing people, dedicated to their music and the church community. Bernadette has joined us in recent times and contributes further to our ministry.

If singing is praying twice, I consider myself very lucky to be able to worship in this special way!

You can speak to any of our musicians about joining us.