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.

Media Contact

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


Founded in 1851 in the Jesuit tradition of academic excellence, Saint Joseph’s University is a top-ranked Catholic University that provides a rigorous, student-centered education. With a total enrollment of 8,500 undergraduate and graduate students, SJU offers a wide-array of academic programs designed so that each graduate enters the world with a competitive resume and global perspective. This is achieved through intense academic study led by thought-leading faculty scholars, a comprehensive campus experience and robust study abroad, service-learning, internship and co-op programs. Upon graduation, nearly 100 percent of students are employed, pursuing advanced degrees or volunteering in prestigious service programs. A member of the Atlantic 10 Conference, SJU offers 20 Division I intercollegiate men’s and women’s sports. SJU alumni – over 60,000 strong - provide a powerful network that spans the globe.

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