During the pandemic’s darkest days, one quartet offered hope to thousands of Metro Detroiters

When public Masses were suspended in an effort to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Schola Cantorum Detroitensis stepped in to provide an essential experience of beauty.

(1:03) We meet Joe Balistreri, director of music at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament and coordinator of music ministries for the Archdiocese of Detroit. He discusses the importance of beauty, its role in evangelization, and its importance during the pandemic.

(5:08) Joe talks about Archbishop Vigneron’s desire for the Archdiocese of Detroit to have its own schola cantorum, what a schola cantorum is, how ours came to be, and the kind of music they sing.

(7:25) We meet Schola member Eric Taylor, who is also a music educator and the director of the Detroit Children’s Choir. He talks about his experience singing at the cathedral and how the impact of the Schola was so heightened during the pandemic.

(8:34) A clip from Archbishop Vigneron during one of the first livestream Masses, then we hear about the transformation the domestic Church underwent throughout the beginning of the public Mass suspension.

(9:32) Donna Abdoo, a parishioner of St. Paul on the Lake Parish in Grosse Pointe Farms, mentions how much the livestream Masses meant to her and her husband and how engrossed they were in the liturgy. Joe tells us the mission of the Schola Cantorum Detroitensis, and the prominent role a cathedral must have in both sacred and civic matters. 

(10:48) We hear from Donna again, as she mentions how inspirational the music was as part of the livestream. She and Joe both mention the unifying power of music, which Eric echoes, discussing how in times of distress, we look toward the positives and hopefulness in the world.

(13:30) We consider that this year, what we needed more than anything was a little bit of hope for humanity. Joe shares what he hopes people took away from the livestreams, and the contemplative experiences of beauty he hopes the Masses brought to the faithful.

Reporting and narration by Maggie Bickerstaff; production by Ron Pangborn

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