A Brief History of Music at St. Joseph the Worker Catholic Church
Before the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council, Mass throughout the world was said according to the Trinitine Latin Rite with very little congregational participation. After the Council, changes were made in the Liturgy, the congregation was encouraged to participate, and Mass was said in the vernacular (English).
In 1950, Gertrude Sill, was very active in St. Joseph parish and good friends with the pastor, Father James Maloney, and associates Father James Maguire and Father Cornelius Sweeney. She played the organ at the 9am, and in 1960 donated the present pipe organ in the memory of her husband Daniel and Family. Some other organists who played from the 1960s through the 1990s were John Harmon, Bernice Lamb, Theresa White, Pam Dunford and Mary Johnson. Sunday Masses were 7:30am, 9am, 10:30am, and 12 noon. Later a 5pm Mass was added on Saturday.
In 1961, Rosemary Ryan moved into St. Joseph Church parish. During a homely , Father Maguire paraphrased President Kennedy's inaugural speech and said, "Ask not what your Church can do for you, but what you can do for your Church." Rosemary knocked on the Rectory door and volunteered as an organist. Thus began a 55-year (and counting!) career of providing music at Masses for St. Joseph and other Catholic Churches, weddings, funerals, and private functions throughout Bakersfield, while raising six children and teaching private lessons. Rosemary has generously donated tapestries, paintings, and other decoration to enhance the interior of our church.
Various choirs were formed in the 1960s. When Monsignor Hannon was pastor, five men formed choir and sang at the 7:30am Mass. One member Bob Davis and his wife Ruth dubbed it "The Moron Tabernacle Choir." Other members were John Webb, Matt Michaels, John Kaufmann, and Gene White. Organist John Harmon directed the Marian Choir at the 9am Mass, and a Children's Choir was formed. Gene White, John Kaufmann, and Robert Richmond led the congregation in singing hymns at Masses without choirs. Robert also directed the 9am Adult Choir from 1991-1997. When he resigned, Rosemary Ryan took over it.
Around 1980, Father Chuck Smith, an associate Pastor for 9 months, heard Kathy Guilford sing with a small group at a Golden Fellowship Mass and invited them to sing at the 12 noon Mass. They led the congregation in song from the corner of the sanctuary where the St. Joseph altar used to stand. Monsignor Esquivel later removed pews to enlarge that area, and a piano was donated by a parishioner. Monsignor changed the English Mass schedule 7am, 9am, and 11am, and introduced a Spanish Mass at 12:30pm.
In 1999, Father Robert Wenzinger invited Marlene Ryan to play piano and sing at the 7am Mass. In 2001, she took over the Children's Choir which had been previously directed by Stephanie Flores. More recently, Heidi Scott joined Marlene as vocalist at the 7am Mass, and now at the 4 pm Saturday Mass.
In the 2000s, Marciano and Stephanie Flores formed and directed a Youth Choir of mostly Confirmation Students, with Randy Johnson accompanying on the piano. One student, Christina Chavez, took over as a director in 2005, and continues singing today at the 5 pm Sunday Mass.
Johnny Cisneros moved back to Bakersfield with his family in 2008, and offered to sing and play guitar. He has graciously substituted at Masses as needed.
Many other people have joined our music ministry at St. Joseph's Church over the years, and we look forward to new members joining to enhance our liturgies as our parish continues to grow. In the fifth century, Saint Augustine of Hippo said, "He who sings, prays twice." That still holds true for today!
Current Schedule of Music for the English Weekend Masses
Saturday 4pm: Marlene Ryan and Heidi Scott
Sunday 9am: Rosemary Ryan and the Adult Choir
11am: Kathy Guilford and the Folk Music Group
5pm: Christina Chavez and the Youth Choir
The Children's Choir sings once a month during the school year, usually at the 11 am Mass. Marlene Ryan is director.
All choirs welcome new members and instrumentalist. Please contact the choir directors after Mass or the Parish Office during business hours. Contribute your voice or talent, and together we will "make a joyful noise unto the Lord"! (Psalm 100)