Rebuilding music programs around diocese starts Sunday at cathedral

With organist Jon Kroepel accompanying, Andrew Earnest encourages the young members of the St. Jude Choir in Peoria to give a little more expression to the music they're singing for Mass at St. Mary's Cathedral on Nov. 13. Rebuilding music programs at St. Mary's Cathedral and throughout the Diocese of Peoria is a goal in the new year, according to Kroepel, director of sacred music in the Office of Divine Worship. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

Music isn’t just nice to have at Mass. It helps people to engage in the celebration and Jon Kroepel, director of sacred music in the diocesan Office of Divine Worship, said it’s time to focus on that again not just at the mother church of the Diocese of Peoria but throughout central Illinois.

He took the first step on Sunday morning when the St. Jude Choir, led by Andrew Earnest, provided the musical leadership at the cathedral’s 10:30 a.m. Mass. He also served as the cantor.

The St. Jude Choir from Peoria is just the first of many school and parish choirs Jon Kroepel, director of sacred music, hopes will share their talents at Masses at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Peoria. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)

The children’s rendition of “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring,” as a Communion meditation was especially well received.

Kroepel said he hopes the Peoria choir will be the first of many guest choirs to join him in the organ loft at St. Mary’s Cathedral.

“As we head into this post-COVID season, it’s time for us to rebuild our music programs,” he told The Catholic Post. “This is an initiative that I will be beginning in this next year to develop programs, such as cantor programs and programs for young keyboardists.”

Earnest said the choir from St. Jude School has been growing — 21 of the 25 members sang on Nov. 13 — and he’s been looking for places for them to sing at Mass.

“It was ideal for us to sing at the cathedral, so I’m happy we came,” he said. “It was perfect for us not only to sing for St. Jude, but to share our talents with the whole diocese.”

Kroepel said he will be reaching out to various directors, but invited parishes and schools to contact him at (309) 671-1550 or


Dr. Sharon Weiss, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Diocese of Peoria, said she hopes they will take Kroepel up on his invitation.

“The music that we sing and listen to at each Mass . . . brings us closer to our encounter with Christ in the Holy Eucharist.” — Dr. Sharon Weiss

“What a great gift we bring to our children when we introduce them to the arts in our schools,” she said.

“We attend Holy Mass surrounded by the beauty of stained glass windows, Stations of the Cross, and other paintings and statues that depict the lives of Christ, his Mother, and the saints. The music that we sing and listen to at each Mass certainly enhances the liturgy and brings us closer to our encounter with Christ in the Holy Eucharist,” Weiss explained.

“To encourage artistic creativity in our students is a great good that our Catholic schools can give, as faith and beauty have always had a home in the church,” she said.


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