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Diocesan Office of Sacred Music

A closer look

“Since my childhood, music has been a part of the very fabric of my faith life,” says Francisco Carbonell, diocesan director of music. Carbonell grew up in Spain, the youngest of eight in a family with a deep love and passion for sacred music. “My father, who had been a professor at the Conservatory in Valencia, Spain,” remembers Carbonell, “heavily influenced my musical interests. I remember as a kid we had a family choir, and my father would write music and arrangements for us to sing.” Inspired by his upbringing, Carbonell followed in his father’s footsteps and attended the Conservatory in Valencia and studied there before moving to Rome where he continued to study sacred music with a focus in composition for sacred liturgy. “During my time there I had the privilege to play the organ for various churches and basilicas and as well as to sing in the Cappella Giulia at St. Peters Basilica,” shares Carbonell. After his time in Rome, he accepted a position at St. John the Evangelist in Indianapolis, Indiana, where he served for over seven years before moving to Birmingham in 2021.

With two years behind him, Carbonell says, “Time has flown,” but he acknowledges the blessings of working with different musical aspects of the diocese. In addition to assisting many parishes with their practical needs, he is especially proud of the establishment and growth of the Diocesan Choir. “One of my tasks from the beginning has been a diocesan choir that would bring together the many musicians of our diocese to lead our most solemn diocesan celebrations which would be both at a high standard of excellence as well as an authentic reflection of who we are as a local Church,” he explains. Thus far, Carbonell considers it a “great personal joy” to have met various priests, deacons, and lay faithful throughout the diocese, building a “musical connection” with them. The relationships have paved the way for numerous educational opportunities aimed at progress towards implementing the musical vision of the Second Vatican Council as well as its implementation here at the local level. The opportunities have already yielded much fruit, and Carbonell is excited to feature more during the 2023-2024 season.

First among the exciting new initiatives coming out of the Office of Sacred Music is the establishment of a new diocesan Sacred Music Academy. The goal of the academy is simply to further equip diocesan musicians for ministry in sacred settings through a low-cost formation on the technical aspects to liturgical musicianship. The seminars will be presented by highly qualified music directors already serving in our diocese as well as other expert guest presenters active in liturgical music ministry.

The academy will offer a total of six different seminars each year. The courses will be offered on three Saturdays: Sept. 9 at the Cathedral of St. Paul, Feb. 24 at St. Stephen the Martyr, and April 13 at St. Mark the Evangelist. Two seminars will be offered each Saturday and participants may choose to register for one or both. Each course is offered at the low cost of $25 per course. The Office of Sacred Liturgy will present a certificate in “Parish Music Leadership” to those who successfully complete six courses.

The second initiative, the establishment of the new Diocesan Children’s Choir, will combine students in grades 3 to 8 from Catholic schools and parishes from within the diocese to sing for various special events in the diocese. Participation is upon the recommendation of school music teachers or parish music directors. The choir’s inaugural event will be a two-day intensive workshop at St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church, beginning on Dec. 14. The workshop will culminate with a concert debut the following day at 5 p.m.

The next initiative involves strengthening the musical formation for the Hispanic communities of the diocese with music formation taught in the Spanish language monthly at Prince of Peace Catholic Church in Hoover. Dates for the remainder of 2023 are Aug. 28, Sept. 18, Oct. 16, Nov. 6, and Dec. 4.

Individual parishes may also request the scheduling of formation sessions at local parishes. The goal of this initiative is simply to teach participants fundamental musicianship as a tool for elevating their respective roles in liturgical music ministries.

Finally, Carbonell extends an invitation to all in the diocese not only to consider the Diocesan Choir but also to attend future events including Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem for All Souls Day and the annual Christmas at the Cathedral concert. To learn more about the Office of Sacred Music, future events, or ways to get involved, please visit