Saint Joseph’s Seminary, the center of formation for the priesthood for the Archdiocese of New York, the Diocese of Brooklyn, and the Diocese of Rockville Centre, together with the Archdiocese of New York’s Office of Liturgy, has announced its first graduates from the Saint Cecilia Academy for Pastoral Musicians.  A four-course, fully accredited program, the Saint Cecilia Academy trains parish musicians in the history, theology, and pastoral principles of liturgy and sacred music.

“The Saint Cecilia Academy fulfills a long-standing need to provide quality education for our dedicated parish musicians,” stated Msgr. Peter Vaccari, Rector of Saint Joseph’s Seminary.  “We are excited to offer musicians a program of study in the history, theology, and pastoral principles of the Church’s beautiful tradition of sacred music.”

Musicians enrolled in the Saint Cecilia Academy participate in Masters Level Courses, including:

  • Introduction to Liturgy;
  • Liturgical Music: History of Sacred Music, Principles of Sacred Music, Liturgical Music Planning;
  • Liturgical Year/Art and Environment in Worship; and
  • Introduction to Chant.

Musicians sponsored by their parishes receive a 50 percent discount on Seminary tuition upon enrollment.

“The Saint Cecilia Academy matched all of my expectations.  It gave me the confidence to know that I now have the knowledge, tools, and resources I need to do my job as music coordinator of my parish,” said Shana Mahoney, one of the Academy’s new graduates and Music Director of Saint Barnabas Church in the Bronx.  “As professional musicians, we receive top level training at music universities and conservatories, but very little official training that prepares us for the real-world opportunities that many musicians encounter in the church – i.e., ‘church jobs’.  If you are a professional musician who works in the church, this is the program that fills that gap.”

When asked how her studies have  impacted her work as a music minister, Mahoney stated, “I am now better equipped to fulfill my responsibilities as the coordinator of music for my parish.  I have learned which church documents are official and binding in reference to music and what each of them offers us as guidelines when choosing music for the liturgy.  I have also significantly expanded my parish’s music repertoire as a result of what I studied at the Academy.  So much great new music for my choirs can be found online and for free!  In sum, I have discovered that the more knowledge and understanding I have of the liturgy, the more inspired I am to push myself to provide beautiful, sacred music for my parish.”

This spring, the Saint Cecilia Academy continues its offerings with “Introduction to Chant”, taught by Dr. Jennifer Donelson, Associate Professor and Director of Sacred Music at Saint Joseph’s Seminary.  Registration and more information may be found at the Saint Cecilia Academy website.