It takes a very gifted musician to grow a music ministry that large. Joan is an outstanding musician, and she also provides a warm and inviting forum for church members to express and share their gift of music, whether that person is a professional or amateur.
She was born in Louisville, Kentucky. Her father's job moved the family to many locales, but they finally settled in Somerset. Joan's love of music prompted her to become a Music Education major at Douglass College, where she studied piano with Maria Valgoczy. Joan also took a Masters Degree in Music History and Theory at Rutgers.
St. Matthias has always been Joan's parish. The Director of Music job opened in 1978. Joan began a career that would enable her to grow as a musician and provide a platform for others to express themselves through music. At the beginning, the Adult Choir, the Children's Choirs and a folk group were the ensembles in place. Joan found ways to include other forms of musical expression, such as the Umoja Imani Songsters Gospel Choir, the Filipino American Association Choir, a Handbell choir and a Youth Handbell Choir, and the "150" Central Praise Band.
It is sometimes hard to separate music from spirituality. Music has a tremendous power to touch the human spirit. Joan keeps finding ways to keep that spirit alive. The "150" Central Praise Band and the Children’s Choir recently performed at the Franklin Middle School to benefit a school in Tanzania, aiding the work of Sister Mary Vertucci, a Maryknoll sister whose family are longtime parishioners of St. Matthias.
Joan lends a creative touch to the music ministry by combining choirs from time to time to give members a chance to sing with others. She has commissioned new music. Chris Rath, the Assistant Choir Director, set to music the Parish Mission Statement. Joan beams at the talent that is all around her. Of course, this talent would have no outlet without the vision of the pastor of St. Matthias Church, Reverend Douglass J. Haefner, and the nurturing Joan provides. Those wishing to be a part of a great musical experience can find a home with Joan's encouragement. This is music ministry at its best.