Choir rehearses for pope’s historic D.C. visit

July 25, 2024 | 'What we're doing is beautiful' (Rick Massimo)

WASHINGTON — With the pope set to visit D.C. next month for the first-ever canonization on American soil, a 90-member choir that will sing at the Canonization Mass has started rehearsing.

The Archdiocesan Papal Mass Choir, one of five choirs that will be part of the special mass, held its first rehearsal Monday night at St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church, in Hyattsville, Maryland.

Jonathan Kirby auditioned to earn a spot in the choir’s bass section.

“It was a little nerve-wracking,” he says. “It was this big old quiet church, and I just had to sing to fill the space.”

Kirby, a student at Catholic University, is impressed by the material he’ll be singing.

“There’s actually going to be a lot of different languages.  We’re singing in Latin, English, Spanish, and I think there’s actually some Native American dialogue.”

Because tickets to the mass are extremely limited, Kirby was not able to get one for his dad, but family members will be glued to the TV.

“He and my sister back up in Massachusetts will be watching and will be rooting for me.”

Kirby says the experience is exciting.

“No matter how you slice it, singing for the pope, as a Catholic musician, this is one of the greatest things that you can look forward to.”

As he led the rehearsal, Principal Music Director for the Papal Mass Tom Stehle used the words “fantastic” and “incredible” to describe what he was hearing.

He told the choir, “no one would believe you’ve never sung together before.”

The choir will get together for several more Monday-night rehearsals, as well as some extra ones right before the mass.

Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter turned morning anchor at WTOP News.

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