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Diocese of Greensburg celebrates mercy year with new music

Shirley McMarlin
| Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016, 7:03 p.m.
Tom Octave
Tom Octave
Patrick McNally
Patrick McNally
Chris Pardini
Chris Pardini

The premiere of a specially commissioned musical composition will be part of an Oct. 15 event hosted by the Diocese of Greensburg to celebrate Pope Francis' Year of Mercy.

“Kyrie Eleison, The Servant Songs,” by J. Christopher Pardini, director of liturgy and music at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral, will be presented at 7:30 p.m. in the St. Joseph Chapel at the Bishop Connare Center in Unity.

A special exhibit of artifacts from St. John Paul II also will open that evening.

Pardini and conductor Thomas Octave will give a talk on the music at 7 p.m. Interested guests also can attend a reception at 6 p.m.

“The concert will be a wonderful collaborative effort of diocesan groups and community musicians coming together to recognize the Year of Mercy,” Pardini says.

Singers from the diocesan choir, Westmoreland Choral Society Chamber Ensemble and St. Vincent Archabbey Seminary Schola will join with a 15-member chamber orchestra, under the direction of Octave, assistant professor of music at St. Vincent College and director of the diocesan choir, the choral society and St. Vincent College Singers.

Guest soloist will be baritone Patrick McNally, a Carnegie Mellon University graduate who has performed with various opera groups in New York City and Europe. Narration will be by Bishop Edward Malesic.

Octave says he thought of McNally when Pardini said he wanted to write for a baritone voice: “We were undergrads together at CMU, and I thought he would be perfect for the part. Luckily, his schedule was open to accommodate us.”

Pardini was chosen to create the work, Octave says, “because he's a superb composer and he did a beautiful work for Bishop Malesic's ordination last year.”

Pardini says his composition is based on four servant songs found in the Book of Isaiah, calling it “very intense and tremendously challenging” because the text is traditionally read and not sung.

The display of artifacts will include about two dozen items, including John Paul II's white ski jacket and an overcoat, white cassock, Mass vestment, miter and zucchetto, or skullcap. Pieces come from the collection of Msgr. Michael R. Dylag, a retired diocesan priest who was a close friend of the late pope.

The exhibit is part of the Diocesan Heritage Center's “Jesus, the Merciful Face of the Father,” running through Nov. 20, the last day of the Year of Mercy. The larger exhibit includes about 50 paintings, drawings, photographs and other images on loan from parishes and organizations in the diocese's four counties.

Pope Francis declared the Year of Mercy on Dec. 8, 2015, as a time for Catholics to practice mercy, forgiveness and solidarity within the church and in the global community.

The Year of Mercy itself harkens to the biblical Jubilee described in the Old Testament Book of Leviticus, to be observed every 50 years as a time when slaves and prisoners would be set free and debts would be forgiven.

As for the diocesan event, Octave says, “Everyone is giving so much of their time, talent and treasure to make this happen. It's going to be a beautiful expression of faith.”

Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5750 or

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