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Young adult’s calling is music to parish


MAKING MUSIC: Catherine Marshall directs the St. Thérèse of Carmel Parish Choir, which will perform its annual spring concert at 3 p.m., Palm Sunday, March 24. (Credit: Haley Sieben)

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SAN DIEGO — When Catherine Marshall speaks about the power of music to lead the people to God, she speaks from experience.

As a middle-schooler, she attended Mass with her parents and younger sister, but only out of a sense of obligation.

She credits her involvement with St. Thérèse of Carmel Parish’s music ministry, beginning in eighth grade, with sparking a spiritual transformation.

“It became my favorite thing in life,” said Marshall, now 27.

She remembers a schedule that had her attending two evening rehearsals and two Sunday Masses every week.

Her spiritual life continued to deepen as a student at Canyon Crest Academy, and she found a “booming Catholic community” at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she earned a Bachelor of Music in Flute Performance in 2018.

Despite that, Marshall never imagined working for the Church.

“Music was my profession, and I always had a passion for Church music but didn’t realize it would be a full-time calling,” she said, explaining that she had been on track to become a professional flutist.

That changed in fall of 2021, when she accepted the position of director of music at St. Thérèse of Carmel Parish. She coordinates liturgical music, ensuring that musicians have been lined up for the parish’s weekend Masses and for weddings and funerals.

Though she oversees all of the parish’s music groups, Marshall has a hands-on role with two of them: She directs the St. Thérèse of Carmel Parish Choir and the youth and young adult choir, known as “Ruach.”

Because so many diocesan liturgies are held at the parish, Marshall’s job also means frequently collaborating with the diocesan Office for Liturgy and Spirituality on these events.

She believes that “we all have a longing for union with God” and that there is something about beautiful music that can awaken that longing.

Many among the parish choir’s 35 members have degrees in music. Several have sung with such prestigious ensembles as the San Diego Master Chorale and the Vienna Singverein, and at such venues as Carnegie Hall; the Queen’s (now King’s) Chapel of the Savoy, London; and the Vatican.

The parish choir, which provides the liturgical music for the 9 a.m. Sunday Mass, is preparing for its annual spring concert, which will be held at 3 p.m., Palm Sunday, March 24. The choir began its preparation for this concert last fall.

The choir will perform Maurice Duruflé’s “Requiem,” as well as Claudio Monteverdi’s “Ave Maris Stella,” Rene Clausen’s “Set Me As a Seal,” and Gabriel Faure’s “Cantique de Jean Racine.”

There is no cost to attend the concert, though a free-will offering will be accepted.

Marshall explained that the choir considers the event its “personal gift” to the parish and wider community, an opportunity “to appreciate the rich history of our Church and what beauty can inspire in one’s spiritual life.”

The choir is grateful for the support that the parish’s pastor, Father Chris Tozzi, has shown to the parish’s music program.

This will be the choir’s second spring concert under Marshall, who earned a Master of Music degree in Flute Performance last spring from San Diego State University and is working on an Artist Diploma Advanced Certificate in Choral Conducting, also at SDSU.

Last year marked the return of the spring concert after a four-year hiatus due to the pandemic.

Marshall sees Duruflé’s “Requiem” as a good fit for Holy Week, explaining that it encourages concert-goers to contemplate “those bigger-picture realities” that we don’t think about very often. She said that the Requiem texts “allow us to reflect on where we are going and the reality of death and eternal life.”

For more information about the concert, contact St. Thérèse of Carmel Parish at

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