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April 26, 2009

Priests, sisters showcase their musical talents

By Kristin Peterson


Priests don’t often have a chance to display their musical talents, outside of singing during Mass. So who knew that there are priests in the archdiocese who can sing opera, strum Beatles songs on the guitar, belt out some favorite show tunes, impersonate Johnny Cash and tell corny jokes about religion? Oh wait, we all know a few priests who can do that last one.

Twelve priests from across the archdiocese were joined by a few religious sisters and laity as they displayed their musical skills during the second showing of Padres Plus on Parade at St. Scholastica Academy’s auditorium April 19.

The Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women put on this event, and a portion of the proceeds went to the Retirement Fund for Religious and the Priests’ Retirement Mutual Aid Association.

Father Ken Baker, associate pastor at St. John of the Cross Parish in Western Springs, directed the show, which included 20 performances. Each of the acts was introduced by MCs Father John Clemens, ACCW moderator and pastor of Our Lady of Hope Parish in Rosemont, and Father Joseph Altman, pastor of Ascension- St. Susanna Parish in Harvey. The two hosts kept the audience laughing during the breaks.

The show opened with a performance of an original piece called “Pieta” by Father John Moulder, arts chaplain at St. Gregory the Great Parish and a jazz guitarist.

One of the highlights of the show was hearing the voice of Father Juan Carlos Gavancho, associate pastor at St. Odilo Parish in Berwyn. He said he was getting over a cold, but Gavancho blew everyone away with a piece from Donizetti’s opera, “La Fille du Regiment,” and of “La Donna E Mobile” from Verdi’s “Rigoletto.”

Another impressive performance came from Father John Szmyd, professor and director of liturgy, and Linda Cerabona, director of music, both at University of St. Mary of the Lake/ Mundelein Seminary. Szmyd played the trumpet and Cerabona played the piano as they performed “Grand Russian Fantasia.”

Father Ken Budzikowski, pastor of St. Thecla Parish, amazed the audience with “Deep River Blues” by Doc Watson and an instrumental medley of Beatles’ songs on his guitar.

Hosts Clemens and Altman didn’t let Budzikowski live down his appearance in the Catholic New World’s “5 Minutes with Father.” “He’s got stacks of copies of the New World backstage that he’ll sign for you,” Clemens joked.

Father Chris Doering, pastor of Our Lady of Victory Parish, played two songs by Johnny Cash: “Man in Black” and “Folsom Prison Blues.” He even improvised his own lyrics. After saying, “You’ll never see me wear a suit of white,” Doering added, “unless I become pope.”

Benedictine Sister Callista Kaley and Benedictine Oblate Donna Dehnert performed on dueling pianos. Providence Sister Kathleen Smith, pastoral associate at St. Felicitas Parish and a concert pianist, played “Claire de Lune” and excerpts from “Porgy and Bess.”

Father Tom Mescall, pastor of St. Adrian Parish, got everyone clapping as he played traditional Irish songs on the concertina along with fiddler Teresa Shine.

Father Mike Michelini, pastor of St. Adalbert Church, presented the only non-music act. He told some Bible jokes and shared some stories of real-life priestly mishaps.

The “padres” and the “plus” entertained the audience with their wide range of talents.

“It’s a great variety, such a mix of music. Everything is so well done,” said Linda Christian of Our Lady of Victory Parish.