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,


As Philadelphia's Jesuit, Catholic University, founded by the Society of Jesus in 1851, Saint Joseph's University provides a rigorous, student-centered education rooted in the liberal arts. SJU ranks as a top university in the Northeast, with a Phi Beta Kappa chapter in the College of Arts and Sciences and AACSB accreditation of the  Erivan K. Haub School of Business. The University is also deeply committed to the Jesuit tradition of scholarship and service, earning a place on the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll and the community engagement classification from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. With courses offered on campus and online, SJU prepares its more than 8,000 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students to lead lives of personal excellence, professional success and engaged citizenship.


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