Holy Cross Catholic Church and School 60th Anniversary Newsletter - June
Holy Cross 60
Hello Holy Cross community,
Welcome to the June edition of the 60
anniversary newsletter! It is hard to believe we are halfway through 2021!
We invite you to visit
to view past newsletters as well as the video of the digital art show of “What Holy Cross Means to Me.”
Thank you for being a part of this wonderful faith-filled community!
Father Robert Buchmeier, Pastor
Mrs. Lisa Kane, Principal
Mrs. Megan Harbold, 60
Calling Family Recipes!
anniversary committee is in the process of putting together a commemorative cookbook, filled with the amazing recipes from all of you! We invite you to send in your favorite recipe and a photo, if you have it, to
. Please be sure to include how you would like to be listed under your recipe.
Submissions are due by June 30
History collected by MaryAnn and Karen Crespy.
HOLY CROSS CHOIRS AND MUSIC
“…music is one of the most magnificent presents God has given us.” ~ Martin Luther
Sixty years is a very long time. This month we will attempt to capture the overall music ministry at Holy Cross from 1962 to today.
Because Catholic Churches offer daily Masses and multiple Masses each weekend plus funerals, weddings, First Communions, Confirmations, and other occasions of celebration, many people have served in the Music Ministry. The sidebar to the right attempts to name those persons and we will profile several. But first, let us go back to 1962 when the parish was founded.
The first organist was Don Jeffrey, who came to Holy Cross from St. Jane De Chantal Church in 1960; at that time the Holy Cross organ was being installed (more about the organ to follow). Though only with Holy Cross a short time, Don launched a robust musical legacy that continues at Holy Cross.
The first known choir was an all-male group of approximately 12 men, led by the organist and first choir director John Thys until his untimely death in December 1971. The men sang from the choir loft for the 10:30 a.m. Sunday Mass. In 1969-70, parishioner Rosemary Monagan asked for and received permission to assemble a group of women to sing with the men at Christmas Eve Mass which they did for two consecutive years.
Then, in 1972,
Father Arthur Rasquinha, S.J.
, a Jesuit priest from India, who was studying for his master’s degree at Catholic University and living at Georgetown Prep, came to the rectory and asked if he could help with the choir. The position was open and he immediately became the organist and choir director for the 10:30 a.m. Sunday Mass. Some months later, the women who sang at Christmas were invited to join the men in a mixed choir (now called the Traditional choir) for the Sunday 10:30 a.m. Mass. Not all of the men were happy and one or two of them quit. The remaining men offered resistance to the women singing from the Blue Hymnal: a blue leather-bound hymnal containing beautiful Latin hymns. All of this may sound strange today, but in 1972 things were slowly changing. Finally, everyone sang from the same music and there was true harmony. Father Arthur was at Holy Cross for two years before returning to India.
In the April 1974 bulletin, Father Lewis summed up Father Arthur’s leadership perfectly: “he accomplished the no-small feat of evolving our men’s choir into a mixed choir, a diplomatic as well as a musical triumph!”
Each director has brought their own unique talent to the job. Over the years, the Traditional choir sang a variety of sacred music including St. John’s Passion (sung a cappella on Good Friday), Gregorian Chant, and hymns in Polish and German in addition to Latin. Under Father Arthur’s direction, there was a concert of music from his own country’s culture with Indian instrumentals and drums as accompaniment.
direction, from 1990-2006, the Traditional choir sang with the organ and professional musicians playing string, brass, and percussion accompaniment for both Christmas Eve and Easter Vigil Masses. Most poignant was the congregation and choir singing Silent Night on Christmas Eve and the choir, organ, and ensemble joyfully singing the Hallelujah Chorus at Easter.
On special occasions, the Traditional choir wore red cassocks with white surpluses until the late 1990s when those were replaced with blue choir robes and gold and white satin cowls.
Kevin studied Organ Performance at Oberlin College Conservatory of Music. And his first-hand knowledge of the Holy Cross organ began in 1969 when, with permission of Father Lewis, he had his first organ lesson on it. His first organist job was at St. Jane De Chantal in 1970. Of the Holy Cross pipe organ, he states: “From my first acquaintance with the organ in 1969 (52 years ago), I have enjoyed its singing strong sound in an acoustically alive church. I greatly enjoyed all the possibilities
when playing the organ weekly from 1994 to 2006, and occasionally since then.”
Kevin Davis resigned in 2006, and for a few years Catholic University Graduate students, working on advanced degrees in Sacred Music, directed the choir. In 2009, the Traditional choir disbanded and a cantor, accompanied by the organ, led congregational singing from song sheets placed in each pew every weekend.
Linda Ng arrived as music director in 2016 and began a children’s choir at the 9:00 a.m. Sunday Mass. Linda was with Holy Cross for 2 years. And then, in 2018, Peter Smith became director of music and continued the children’s choir. In 2020, he re-launched a mixed Traditional choir to sing at the 12:00 p.m. Mass on Sundays. And during the COVID-19 pandemic, he arranged for music to be heard by those attending the Sunday 9:30 a.m. outdoor Mass. In order to reach as many people as possible, Father Robert began to say Mass at a temporary altar on the flagstone entrance to Holy Cross Church. Those in outdoor attendance experienced the beauty of Mass in the ambiance of the beautiful church grounds, buoyed by hymns and spiritual choral music. Peter gave Holy Cross his very best in a time of disruption before he returned to his homeland, Canada.
This year we welcome Dr. Mariana Mihai-Zoeter as music director for Holy Cross. When asked about being at Holy Cross, she replied: “Having been hired during the 60
anniversary of Holy Cross is very exciting. It is very uplifting to hear about how the music ministries have evolved from the time of the founding of the church up until the present day. I hope that
during my tenure at Holy Cross (when the pandemic will subside) I will be able to build upon the foundation that has already been laid down from the past.
“Together with our adult choir, children’s choir, contemporary choir, and our gifted instrumentalists, we will seek to lead the entire congregation in praising God, through the use of well-loved traditional and newer hymns, and a diverse repertoire of historical and modern music embracing a wide variety of traditions”.
A virtual sample of the Traditional Choir’s talents can be found at
For the virtual sample of our Children’s Choir musical talents, go to: www.hcrosschurch.org/wp/childrens-choir/
Folk Choir/Contemporary Choir
In the late 1960s there was a liturgical music trend toward having folk music with an emphasis on guitar accompaniment to provide a more contemporary feel for Mass. In 1971, parishioner
Dr. Leonard Chiazze, Jr.
formed the first Holy Cross Folk Group to sing at the 9:00 a.m. Sunday Mass and later the 5:00 p.m. Saturday Mass. The original group consisted of three families: the Chiazze, Thomas, and Lloyd families. In time, more people joined the group and their repertoire grew. From this early group came a core Folk Group consisting of a few married couples, young and seasoned-singers, and instrumentalists who provided
beautiful, uplifting music for many years. A few members of the Folk group would join the Traditional Choir for Christmas, Easter, and on special occasions which was especially nice.
Dr. Leonard Chiazze, who held a Doctor of Science degree from the University of Pittsburgh, was a devoted family man originally from Falconer, New York. In the 1960s he and his wife, Ellen, bought a home on Euclid Drive, the same street on which the original founders of the parish resided. They later moved within the parish to a larger home to accommodate their growing family of three daughters and a son. Dr. Chiazze retired from a distinguished career with Georgetown University.
He left as director of the Folk Group in 1985 after 14 years of providing uplifting music at Holy Cross. Dr. Chiazze died in 2017 and his funeral Mass was held at Holy Cross Church.
In the early 1980s,
began singing with the Traditional Choir when he and his friend, Michael Linthicum, were hired to be cantors while still students at University of Maryland. Terry has a clear Tenor voice and frequently paired with Soprano Cathy Edwards to sing meditation hymns. They eventually cut a CD of Sacred Music accompanied by Kevin Davis.
In the late 1980s, Terry
entered the Catholic Church and was baptized at the Easter Vigil Service. Through the years, Terry and his family relocated further away from Garrett Park. His Sunday morning commitment to Holy Cross meant he, his wife and family were at Holy Cross every Sunday morning until after the 12:00 p.m. Mass. His four children attended Holy Cross School of Religion (SOR), sang with the group, and two daughters worked as SOR classroom aids.
By 2002, Terry had redeveloped what had been the Folk Group. With fewer guitars being used in this type of music, a new Roland electric piano was purchased, and the group transitioned to a Contemporary Choir. Parishioner Mary Moyer, former long-time Holy Cross organist and pianist and now deceased, accompanied the Contemporary Choir at the 9:00 a.m. Sunday Mass.
In his free time, Terry worked with small theater groups. One role, that of Daddy Warbucks in Annie, required him to shave his head. To quell speculation, he announced in church that he was not ill, just preparing for a part in a play—much to the relief of everyone!
Terry ended his tenure at Holy Cross in 2016—wrapping up 31 years of beautiful singing and musical direction.
Most recently, Isaac Schiller took the lead for the Contemporary Choir, directing the group and playing the Yamaha electric piano at the 5:00 p.m. Saturday Mass.
Before Father Robert became pastor in 2015, there was no singing or music at the 7:30 a.m. Sunday Mass. In the ‘old days’ this was called a Low Mass. High Masses included singing and an organ. Father Robert changed that. Kathy Fitzpatrick, an alumna of the Traditional choir, cantor for the 5:00 p.m. Saturday Mass, and vocalist for funerals and weddings, became the cantor at 7:30 a.m. Mass.
As of now, there is music and singing at every Mass. The music traditional at Holy Cross is strong and hopefully everyone will sing along with the choir of their choice in the near future!
Pianos and Organ
Roland Electric Spinet Piano
A new Roland electric spinet piano was purchased prior to 2017. This is used by the Contemporary Choir and was played by Peter Smith for the outdoor Mass on Sunday mornings during COVID-19.
Yamaha Baby Grand Piano
In 2017, Linda Ng came to Holy Cross as music director for a few years. She conducted the school children in their choral work and played the piano and organ at the 5:00 p.m. Saturday Mass. It was during this time that the parish acquired a used Yamaha electric baby grand piano.
This piano sits in the right transept, in front of the first pew. Electrical and audio lines have been installed under the floor so it can be connected to the sound system.
The accompanist makes the judgement when to play the piano and when to play the organ during Mass.
The organ in Holy Cross Church was neither brand new nor used when it was installed in the newly built church in 1961. The organ was an amalgam created by the Newcomer Organ Co. (since absorbed by its competitor Lewis
& Hitchcock). Part of the organ came from the Bethesda Presbyterian Church in Bethesda, Maryland, built by the Reuter Organ Co. of Lawrence, KS. The Newcomer Organ Company added more pipes from other sources. Most of the Great division, to the organist’s left, was acquired by Newcomer for the Holy Cross organ.
Former organist, Kevin Davis, passed along the following information: “Don Jeffrey, the very first organist at Holy Cross, vetoed the placement of the Great division in a swell box. This decision to eschew a swell box for the Great is part of what makes the organ sound so well. It has an excellent, full sound, helped by the church’s resonant acoustics.
“In the early 1990s the organ showed signs of needing re-leathering. The original Pitman electro-pneumatic action used numerous small bellows-like pneumatic actuators: leather pouches that dry-rot over some years. At the recommendation of Lewis & Hitchcock we completely replaced the Pitman action with direct-electric action. We also took advantage of the necessary extensive re-wiring to create several new stops through “borrowing”.
“In 1994, two different grants enabled the addition of more real stops to the organ.
The Francis J. Collins Family gifted the Festival Trumpet en Chamade stop that is mounted horizontally on the rose window cross piece. This means the
organ has a special, full ‘rank’ of pipes (i.e. a pipe for each key on the keyboard) called “Festival Trumpet en Chamade”. They are installed part way up the stain
glass window; they are separate from the rest of the pipes.
Dr. Robert Thibadeau gifted the Holy Cross Church organ with Classic European Stops that completed the organ’s choruses.
“The result is that the organ now sounds even better than it did from 1961 to 1994; and it is now able to play classical organ literature in a way that wasn’t possible before 1994.”
Please take time to stop and read the two plaques with the dedications for the gifts mentioned. There is one on the right and one on the left side of the church where you enter the side aisles from the vestibule.
Former Music Director Peter Smith provided the following explanation:
“The term ‘stops’ refers to the various sounds you can select on the organ; for example, there is a flute stop, which sounds somewhat like a flute. For every stop that is selected there is a complete ‘rank’ of pipes for that type of sound, i.e., an assigned pipe with that sound for each note on the organ keyboard. There are 61 keys on a standard organ keyboard, so there would be 61 individual pipes required just to produce that flute sound.
“The term Classic European, refers a standard set of stops/sounds that were typically used on organs during the ‘Classical’ music period. Most pipe organs include stops such as Flute, Gemshorn, Gedeckt, Diapason, Bombarde, Trumpette, Scharf, Mixture, Bourdon Clarinet Oboe, Fourniture, Plein Jeu, etc. The Holy Cross organ includes all of these.”
Founding Pastor, Monsignor Quinn was blessed to work with a well-respected organ company and talented musicians who understood the intricate workings of the pipe organ. And we are blessed by the talents of every organist, pianist, guitarist, flutist, singer, cantor, and music director who have enriched and continue to enhance our celebrations.
These persons, and the very generous benefactors of Holy Cross Church, have given all current and future parishioners a beautiful musical legacy.
Interview by Kate Oczypok
Interview with the Tantillo Family
Andy and Tulasi Tantillo moved to Kensington from Washington, DC in 2011 when their son Matty was under two years old. At the time, they remained members of Holy Trinity Parish in Georgetown where Matty was baptized.
“We began visiting parishes in our area, and after our daughter Sarah was born in 2012 and baptized at Holy Cross, we chose it as our new parish,” said Tulasi.
The Tantillos liked the quiet and kind nature of the church community and later the other families they met through the Children’s Liturgy program. “It made us feel like Holy Cross was a special place,” Tulasi added.
The Tantillo family has been involved at Holy Cross in various capacities over the last few years. Andy served on the Social Concerns Committee and on Parish Council and Tulasi was a room parent at Holy Cross School and served on the Home & School Association. She also taught Children’s Liturgy.
“We enjoyed participating in our Holy Cross community and working to foster Holy Cross’s welcoming spirit,” Tulasi said.
As far as when you can expect to see the Tantillos at Mass, for several years the family attended the Sunday at 9 am Mass and Matty and Sarah attended Children’s Liturgy. As they got older, they started attending Saturday at 5 p.m. Mass. Due to the pandemic, the family has been attending Mass virtually this past year.
“Our children are enjoying attending School of Religion virtually and we are so grateful to their teachers for continuing their faith instruction,” Tulasi said.
Now that Matty and Sarah log in to their School of Religion classes and listen attentively, the family loves to look back on how Holy Cross has been a positive part of their lives.
“We were recently reminiscing about the days when we had to bring little snacks or coloring to keep Sarah entertained during Mass and how the soothing tones of Mass sometimes led her to close her eyes on our shoulders when she was a wee one,” Tulasi said. “Both kids loved being called up to the altar to hear Father Robert speak directly to the children.”
The Tantillos love the understated, peaceful nature of the Holy Cross parish. They’ve met many special people through Holy Cross including the Bowen, Flaim, and Kuan families and Matty and Sarah’s piano teacher, me (Kate Oczypok)!
“We are grateful to the school and church leadership, including Father Robert, Mrs. Kane and Mrs. Ilagan for their kind and loving ways over the past years,” Tulasi said.
As far as the next 60 years, the Tantillos hope that Holy Cross will continue to participate in social justice issues and be a beacon for our community and beyond. They look forward to the church growing and flourishing and welcoming new ideas and attracting new parishioners for the next 60 years and more.
We Want Your Photos!
The Holy Cross 60th Anniversary Committee is looking for photos from the far or recent past, to share as a part of celebrating the 60th anniversary of our church and school.
Please email photos to
in highest resolution and if possible, please identify "who is in the photo, what the occasion was, when it occurred, where the photo was taken". Thank you!
Thank you for celebrating Holy Cross Catholic Church and School's
anniversary with us!
Volume 5, June 2021
Mary Anne Gadbois
on Tuesday, June 1 at 11:10AM