Chapel Choir Embarks on Pilgrimage to Sing at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome

Monday, January 7, 2013

PHILADELPHIA (Jan. 7, 2013) – The 42 student members of Saint Joseph’s University’s Chapel Choir, led by Noel Koenke, coordinator for liturgy and music at SJU, are on an eight-day pilgrimage to Italy that includes opportunities to sing liturgical and sacred music at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City and in the Basilica of St. Francis in Assisi.

On Sunday, Jan. 6, at St. Peter’s, while seated in close proximity to the Sistine Chapel Choir – one of the world’s oldest religious choirs – the SJU students were invited to sing the responsorial passages at a papal Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI for the Solemnity of the Epiphany. Following a day of tours throughout the Vatican on Jan. 7, the group was the principal choir for an evening Solemn Mass, also at St. Peter’s.

“This trip marks the first time our Chapel Choir has travelled outside of the United States to perform as a group,” says Thomas Sheibley, director of Campus Ministry. “We are very proud that the students, who were responsible for raising the necessary funds for their participation in the pilgrimage, wholeheartedly embraced the opportunity to sing in these holy places, which figure so prominently in our Catholic faith tradition.”

Another highlight of the pilgrimage occurs on Jan. 9, when the Chapel Choir will take part in an audience with Pope Benedict XVI, at which they will perform a musical selection. In addition to singing at the Vatican, the choir is scheduled to perform a public concert for the City of Rome in the Church of St. Ignatius, as well as a recital in the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome. On Jan. 10, before returning home the next day, the group will visit Assisi and sing in a Mass at the Basilica of St. Francis.

Contact Information

Patricia Allen, Senior Associate Director of University Communications, 610-660-3240,


Founded by the Society of Jesus in 1851, Saint Joseph's University advances the professional and personal ambitions of men and women by providing a demanding, yet supportive, educational experience. One of only 152 schools with a Phi Beta Kappa chapter and AACSB business school accreditation, Saint Joseph's is home to 4,650 traditional undergraduate day students, 700 College of Professional and Liberal Studies adult undergraduates, and 3,600 graduate and doctoral students. Steeped in the 450-year Jesuit tradition of scholarship and service, Saint Joseph's was named to the 2012 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll for General Community Service. The University strives to be recognized as the preeminent Catholic comprehensive university in the Northeast.

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