St. Patrick’s Seminary, Menlo Park, California

Catholic Institute

of Sacred Music

Announcing Summer 2024 Courses!



From Our Director’s Desk

Dear friends of the Catholic Institute of Sacred Music,

After an amazing inaugural summer in 2023, we’re delighted to announce our summer 2024 graduate courses. Again this summer, thanks to the support of generous donors, we are able to offer FREE tuition for students accepted into the program. 

Our full brochure, with FAQ has been posted, along with the application. More information will soon be available on our “Summer Courses” page. 

We hope you’ll be able to join us this summer!

Dr. Jennifer Donelson-Nowicka, Director, Catholic Institute of Sacred Music

Upcoming Event

The History of the Graduale Romanum
Lecture by Fr. Cassian Folsom, O.S.B.
Saturday, April 27, 2024
10 a.m. PDT

Online via Zoom

The history of the Graduale Romanum is long, complex and full of surprises. Knowing some of that history is a great help in understanding the status of liturgical music today. This conference will be limited to a history of chant books used for the Mass. (Chant books used for the Divine Office is another story for another time.) The period of time we’re dealing with extends from the Council of Trent to the post-Vatican II era. We will briefly describe six books: 1) the Medicea edition of the Graduale Romanum (1614–1615), 2) the Solesmes movement and the Liber Usualis (1896), 3) the Graduale Romanum commissioned by Pope Pius X (1908), 4) the Vatican II document on the sacred liturgy and the Graduale Simplex (1967), 5) the Graduale Romanum of 1974/1979 and the Graduale Triplex (1979) and finally, 6) the Graduale Novum (2011/2018).

Because there is so much material, an in-depth study is not possible in this conference. Rather, we will focus on the highlights, and try to trace the ever-present tensions between tradition and reform.

Spring 2024 Public Lecture & Concert Series

Vox Psalmistæ, Vox Ecclesiæ: a Biblical-Liturgical Study of Sunday Vespers

Friday, February 9, 2024, 7 p.m. PST

Lecture, Fr. Joshua Neu
Sancta Maria Hall at St. Patrick’s Seminary & Online Streaming

Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater and Excerpts from Bach’s Magnificat

Friday, March 1, 2024, 7 p.m. PST

Recital – Sarah Craig Penner, Jennifer Park, Gregory Billion, & Andrew Kelley vocalists, Jennifer Donelson-Nowicka, keyboard

Sancta Maria Hall at St. Patrick’s Seminary & Online Streaming

The History of the Graduale Romanum

Saturday, April 27, 2024, 10 a.m. PDT

Lecture, Fr. Cassian Folsom, OSB

Online via Zoom

Online Workshops

Chironomy Basics

Mondays, January 29 and February 5, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m., PST

Would you like to develop conducting skills for Gregorian chant that help your choir sing better and discover the nuances of phrasing that make the chant beautiful? Join Dr. Donelson-Nowicka for two one-hour sessions to cover the basics of directing chant (chironomy) according to the “Old Solesmes” method developed by Dom André Mocquereau. The first session will outline the theoretical basis for the method in practice through targeted exercises which help singers and directors understand the structure of some sample chants, and then develop a physiological basis for the conducting gesture from an understanding of the architecture of the examples. The second session will cover more sophisticated gestures which elucidate for singers the musical shape of more difficult chants. Tips on structuring rehearsals to meet the demand for learning quickly to sing in the liturgy will be discussed, as well as warm-ups and teaching techniques which develop singers’ awareness of nuances in conducting.

This workshop topic is an excellent introduction to the course content of Advanced Seminar in Gregorian Chant: Conducting (Chironomy) that will be offered in the Catholic Institute of Sacred Music’s Summer 2024 Term.

Tra le Sollecitudini – Directed Reading Group

Mondays, February 19, and 26, and March 4, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m., PST

Led by Drs. William Mahrt and Jennifer Donelson-Nowicka, participants will make an in-depth study of this important document which was seminal for the twentieth-century renewal of sacred music and the Liturgical Movement. Starting from the history and development of the document, the nuances of each of the motu proprio’s articles will be discussed in its historical, liturgical, musical, and canonical contexts. The evolution of the legislative status of various articles will be discussed, especially in light of dubia submitted in response to the legislation, as well as the documents of Pius XII and Vatican II.

This workshop topic is an excellent introduction to the study of legislative documents on sacred music, a study which can be furthered in the Catholic Institute of Sacred Music’s Summer 2024 Term course “History and Principles of Sacred Music.”

Introduction to Chant: Spirituality, Reading, and Style

Mondays, April 8, 15, 22, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m., PDT

Serving as an entry point for professional and amateur musicians alike, each session of this workshop topic will begin with a reflection on the spirituality of Gregorian chant, and what the chant can teach us about praying the sacred liturgy. Participants will then move through the basics of reading neumatic notation (square notes), prepped with some exercises which develop healthy vocal technique for singing chant. The modality and style of the chant will also be addressed.

Appropriate for new singers of chant, or those who wish to develop their teaching of new singers, this workshop topic will serve as a sort of mini-retreat for spiritual refreshment and professional development.

Northern California Sacred Music Study Day

Our Mission

Founded in 2022, the mission of the Catholic Institute of Sacred Music is to draw souls to Jesus Christ through the beauty of sacred music and the liturgy. 

The Institute offers a substantial program of accredited, graduate-level coursework designed to help church musicians and clergy better to know and love the Church’s treasury of sacred music and her teachings on sacred music. Our goal is to equip students with the theological, philosophical, and historical knowledge, as well as the practical skills (singing, playing, conducting, composing, organizing, fundraising) necessary to build excellent sacred music programs in parishes and schools. We aim to help others revitalize the faith of Catholics and instill vitality in parish and school life through a vibrant sacred music program.

We are committed to a faithful and generous service of the Church. We cultivate fidelity, resiliency, a healthy sense of creativity, and selflessness within our student body and faculty as characteristics of our service as we labor together in the vineyard of the Lord to bring in a rich harvest. 

St. Patrick’s Seminary, in Menlo Park, California

For the past 125 years, St. Patrick’s Seminary has successfully prepared men to become Roman Catholic priests in conformity to Christ. Its expansive park-like grounds, historic chapel, modern classrooms, and extensive library provide an ideal environment for prayer, meditation, and study, within close proximity to major urban centers that provide rich field education opportunities. The integrated process of human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral formation at St. Patrick’s Seminary revolves around our core values of spiritual fatherhood, fidelity, holiness, wisdom, evangelization, resiliency, and compassion. 


Announcing Summer 2024!

The Catholic Institute of Sacred Music at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, California is proud to announce its second summer term. Through the sponsorship of generous donors, we are delighted to be able to offer all courses with FREE TUITION for all applicants...

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Entering More Deeply into the Psalms…

We had a great time at Fr. Neu's lecture on Friday evening, "Vox Psalmistæ, Vox Ecclesiæ: A Biblical-Liturgical Study of Sunday Vespers." Did you miss it? Fear not, here it is, archived for your viewing.

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Spring 2024 Workshop Series

Join us for three topics, each with their unique audience! Register here for access. Chironomy Basics Mondays, January 29 and February 5, 5:30 – 6:30 p.m., PST Would you like to develop conducting skills for Gregorian chant that help your choir sing better and...

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Dignum et justum est – A Fitting Tribute to Bill Mahrt

In early November, a hundred participants gathered to fête the life and work of Dr. William Mahrt. The Catholic Institute of Sacred Music was proud to co-sponsor a three-day conference of scholars and practitioners, inspired by the scholar and practitioner Dr. William...

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A Full House!

We are grateful to the hundreds and hundreds of guests who came to the first Advent & Christmas concert of the St. Patrick's Seminary Schola Cantorum. It was a beautiful event, adorned through the hard work of the seminarians who sang well and welcomed the...

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