Parishioners reflect on faith, family, and music in the Church

October 24, 2019
By Ss. Peter & Paul

On September 29, some Ss. Peter & Paul parishioners joined thousands from the St. Louis area and beyond to attend “Coming Home: A Final Celebration,” a concert of the St. Louis Jesuits: composers and leaders of Catholic pastoral music. The five men: Bob Dufford, SJ; John Foley, SJ; Tim Manion; Roc O’Connor, SJ; and Dan Schutte, who first met as Jesuit scholastics at St. Louis University in the seventies, began composing music for Catholic and Christian worship in the years that followed the Second Vatican Council. This allowed for the celebration of the Mass in the vernacular (the commonly spoken language of the region), as opposed to solely in Latin. Together for one last concert, the five men reflected on their lives, their music, and the journeys of faith that brought them to this point in what is likely to be their final performance together. Vic and Stephanie Tidball, both parishioners and members of the Ss. Peter & Paul Glory Choir, reflected on the experience and how it affected them as both disciples and pastoral musicians.

Songs like, “Lift Up Your Hearts,” by Roc O’Connor, SJ; “Be Not Afraid,” by Bob Dufford, SJ; “Here I am, Lord,” by Dan Schutte; “One Bread, One Body,” by John Foley, SJ and many more songs composed by these men made up this unique experience of faith and music. “The whole sold out Powell Symphony Hall was singing these songs,” reflects Stephanie. “When they heard all of us singing, they were just overcome. Every single person in Powell Symphony was singing.” This concert was meant to be both a reunion of the five men, but also a celebration faith and music for so many people who sing these songs in their worship week in and week out. “Out of those about thirty songs, there were only about four that we don’t sing routinely in this parish,” says Vic, “…and this liturgical light emanated from St. Louis to the whole world. It was centered in St. Louis.”

The beauty of this experience is that, like Vic and Stephanie said, parishes all over the country and even the world sing these songs. For many people, they have reshaped the way that people understand God, the scriptures, and the Mass. “That week you didn’t want to go, that’s the week that the homily just smacks you between the eyes or the music just speaks to you, and that’s the thing with the St. Louis Jesuits. So much of their music just speaks to you. They strip everything away and you know you’re not alone,” says Vic. That was the intention of the Second Vatican Council. It was meant to help people understand that God is not some abstract and mystical being that is distant from our lives. He is very intimately present in every moment of our lives, and the songs we sing at Mass can help us to understand that reality more clearly. 

Vic and Stephanie went on to reflect how music has reshaped the way they live their lives of faith. “Singing in our choir has pushed me to have a stronger faith,” remarks Stephanie. She began singing in our choir at Ss. Peter & Paul in 1999 when she began dating her now-husband, Vic’s son, Brandon. Vic had been singing in the parish choir since 1990. They both recalled how singing in the choir led Stephanie to eventually be baptized and confirmed at Ss. Peter & Paul and has kept her coming ever since. “I still have a picture of when I came up out of the water in my purple garment, and I’m drenched and that is the most genuine smile I’ve ever had,” recalls Stephanie. Vic also remembers the day vividly recalling, “… then she got up right after Confirmation, her hair still wet, and sang a solo, ‘I Know that My Redeemer Lives,’ and there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. I’m not kidding; there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.”

Music has deeply impacted the way that the Tidballs have lived their lives of faith and it continues to shape the way their family continues to grow as disciples. They are now three generations strong in the pews and they are proud of that. While Vic and Stephanie are usually sitting with the choir, they cherish the times they get to enjoy Mass from the pews too. “One thing that I do love, as much as I love singing in the choir, is sitting in the pew with my family and both of my kids singing. That’s just great. Hearing both of the kids sing just makes me smile!” says Stephanie. She and Vic hope to continue to foster that love of music in their family and maybe one day have three generations of Tidballs leading our worship music together, but until then they will savor those moments of singing in the pews and even at home too!

Stephanie also reflected on how singing in the choir has led her to deeper engagement in other aspects of the faith, like serving as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion and how humbling it is to be a part of that central mystery of our faith. Finding a way to actively participate in the Mass deepens the experience. Whether it’s singing in the choir, serving as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion or lector, or just actively participating in the sung and spoken responses from the pews, active engagement in the Mass is sure to deepen your experience of faith no matter who you are. “You don’t have to have a trained voice. The music comes from your heart,” recalls Vic, and that’s the case for all of our ministries at Ss. Peter & Paul. We offer training and you can learn a lot from that, but service done from the heart is always unmatched.

Find something that you can do passionately. We have over seventy active ministries at our parish. Surely you can find one that suits what you love to do. Everything that we have, including our talents, is a gift from God. How can you give back to Him for all He’s given to you?

To learn more about the Music Ministry at Ss. Peter & Paul or any of our other ministries, visit our Ministry Archive and find one that you’d like to get involved in!