Make a Joyful Noise to the Lord

Music Ministry

Mary Holzhauer Picture

Mary Holzhauer

Director of Music

A versatile musician, keyboardist Mary Holzhauer regularly performs in a wide spectrum of styles and genres. She studied at the Eastman School of Music, Ithaca College, and Nazareth College, and has worked in the Diocese of Rochester for many years. In addition to being Music Director at Immaculate Conception, she is also on the faculty of Ithaca College and Opus Ithaca.

Mathew Hall in Choir Loft

Matthew Hall


Matthew Hall is an Assistant Organist for the parish. He has been playing the organ since he was 12. His full-time job is as a Catholic campus minister at Cornell and Ithaca College, and he is also a lecturer in the School of Music at Ithaca College. Matthew lives in Trumansburg with his wife Lizzy and son Dominic.

Patrick McMullen

Patrick McMullen


Patrick McMullen is an Assistant Organist for the parish. He began playing the organ at age 14 and continued studying throughout his undergrad at Lebanon Valley College in his home state of Pennsylvania. Patrick moved to Ithaca in 2020 to begin a PhD in Plant Pathology at Cornell University and was thrilled to find the opportunity to serve Immaculate Conception at the same time. He serves as a regular organist for weekend Mass. Patrick has recently performed in organ recitals throughout the greater Harrisburg, PA area.

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises.”

~ Psalm 98:4

The purpose of music ministry is to lead and coordinate the sung praise of the liturgical assembly, enabling it to speak as the voice of the Church, the Body of Christ. The harmony of music and the ritual action of singing together are icons of the Church’s mystical communion in Christ. “We, though many, are one body in Christ and individually parts of one another” (Romans 12:5–6). While the spiritual refreshment of individuals is frequently a fruit of liturgical song, the primary purpose of music in the liturgy is to enable the Church to worship as a community. The ministry and participation of each individual is subordinate to and directed toward that communal goal.

“He who sings, prays twice” (St. Augustine), but “the praise of God exists in the heart rather than on the lips” (St. Thomas Aquinas). This means that we should all always try to sing—particularly the psalms, the ordinary parts of the Mass (Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, etc.), and the responses (“Amen,” etc.)—but it is more important that we all have in our hearts the same intention, whether or not we are able to sing. “Even when listening to…the singing of the choir, the assembly continues to participate actively as they ‘unite themselves interiorly to what the ministers or choir sing, so that by listening to them they may raise their minds to God.’” (Musicam sacram, no. 15; Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship, no. 12)

Music Ministry Update (May 2022)
Mary Holzhauer will join the music ministry staff as Director of Music on July 1, with primary responsibility for Sunday Masses and choirs. Mary has been the organist and pianist at St. Catherine’s for many years and is also on the faculty at Ithaca College and Opus Ithaca, where she teaches various topics in diction, art song, piano, and other areas of music performance. We are extremely fortunate that Mary will be joining our parish music ministry. Matthew Hall will remain on staff with primary responsibility for Saturdays and the organ restoration project. Patrick McMullen will continue to play at parish liturgies approximately once a month. These changes were set in motion by Patrick’s move to Geneva, NY, to continue his graduate studies in plant pathology and also Matthew’s need to be at Cornell on Sunday mornings for campus ministry, and the increasing demands of Matthew’s diaconal formation program.

For anyone who sings or plays a musical instrument, there are several ways to use your God-given gifts to enhance our liturgies here at Immaculate Conception. Please contact our Music Director Mary Holzhauer ([email protected]) for more information about how you can join one of our current ministries.
Certain ministries have weekly rehearsals, such as the choir, which meets from 6:15-7:45pm on Tuesdays, and on Sundays an hour before each Mass. Members of the choir sing at the Mass of their choice, and combine for major feast days such as Christmas & Easter. If your schedule precludes you from attending Tuesday rehearsals, you are invited to practice your part on your own and attend the Sunday rehearsals. Teens are welcome to join! Other ministries are scheduled, such as cantor assignments. Cantors must be fully initiated members of the Catholic Church, having received the Sacrament of Confirmation. All cantors must be approved by the Music Director. The Resurrection Choir ministers to the bereaved, singing for funerals & memorial services. Members of this ministry are notified
about all funerals & memorial services that are held & meet for rehearsals an hour before each liturgy. Instrumentalists are always welcome, whether on a regular basis or when specific needs arise, such as instrumental obligato parts with the choir. Please contact the Music Director to join our roster of

Music Ministry Prayer

O God, our Father, we thank you for counting us worthy to stand in your presence to serve you in the company of angels and saints. Strengthen our weakness and pardon our negligence. Help us to fulfill worthily the ministry you have entrusted to us, that what we proclaim with our lips we may believe in our hearts, and what we believe in our hearts we may show forth in our lives. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Thank you to our Amazing Musicians!


Our 1912 Tellers organ is a 29-rank, 4-division instrument. For more information, please see the Organ Historical Society database: We also have a Young Chang baby grand piano.

Choir Loft Photo Gallery

Photos by Matthew Hall, Rich Rasmussen, Anne Woodard