NEW YORK - More than a decade ago, Dr. Jennifer Pascual was hired by Cardinal Egan at St. Patrick's Cathedral. Today she still holds the prestigious title as being the first female music director. She says that being a church musician is being in a man's world. Since February she has been piecing together the choir and orchestra for Pope Francis' visit, including mass at Madison Square Garden. She works with a small team; her main assistant is her husband Robert.
This isn't her first papal music program. She directed the program for Pope Benedict XVI's visit in 2008. For Benedict, they prepared German music in the German language and then music by German composers in English. She says that for Pope Francis they are doing some Hispanic music. Pescador de Hombres is the pope's favorite hymn.
The organ was built back in the early 1930s in St. Louis. It is one of the largest in the country, actually spanning the size of a city block. The biggest pipe is 32 feet; the smallest is the size of a pencil eraser.
Dr. Pascual is an accomplished organist but will be the conductor during the pope's visit. She has chosen bilingual hymns that the pope will recognize. She says it is a big responsibility to try to get thousands to participate and appreciate music.
With all of that taken into consideration, the groundwork may be finished but the rehearsals are ongoing -- and in two weeks, a papal performance highlighting of a career of making heavenly music.