About the Director
Thomas DeFrancesco, director of music and liturgy, is a New York City-based music director, arranger, and pianist, who has performed in several Broadway, Off-Broadway, and local projects. He has enjoyed working with and arranging music for the cast of Sesame Street and their annual outreach program with Project Sunshine. Thomas holds a BA from Wagner College and serves on the music staff at The Third Street Music School Settlement.
Thomas succeeds Laurence Rosania, who was director of music and liturgy at Saint John the Baptist for 11 years. We are grateful for Laurence, who is now director of liturgy and music at College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Mass. A composer whose music is sung throughout the world and appears in Breaking Bread, Glory and Praise, Unidos in Cristo, JourneySongs, and other hymnals, Laurence leaves a legacy of liturgical excellence at Holy Cross-Saint John the Baptist. The parish thanks Thomas and the team of cantors for capably advancing this legacy.
About the Associate Director
Normand Gouin has served the
Church as a pastoral musician and liturgist for over 24 years and has worked in
parishes and other Catholic institutions throughout the country. As an active and
accomplished composer, he has been commissioned to write works for cathedrals,
churches, and religious communities throughout the country. In 2015, his hymn “Sound
the Bell of Holy Freedom” written in collaboration with Rev. Andrew Ciferni, O.
Praem, was selected as the official hymn of the World Meeting of Families, an
event that marked Pope Francis’s first official visit to the United States. Norm’s
publishers include GIA Publications and MorningStar Music Publishers. He has
been a contributing writer for the liturgy and music journal, the GIA
Quarterly, as well as a workshop presenter for the National Pastoral Musicians
Association. He has served on several diocesan liturgical commissions and has
led workshops on liturgy and pastoral music throughout the country. He
holds degrees from The Catholic University of America and the University of
About the Cantors
Jerrod Sanders, a native of North Carolina, received a Bachelor of Music degree at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro and did graduate studies in Music Therapy at New York University. He has sung Bach’s Hekules auf dem Scheideweg and the Koffee Kantate at Teatro Communale in Florence, Italy; the Mozart Requiem at the Iglesia de la Conception in Marbella, Spain; and Bach’s Magnificat in D at Parroquia de Santa Cruz in Madrid. He has toured nationally and internationally in the opera Porgy and Bess with the Houston Grand Opera and Living Arts-New York. He made his Metropolitan Opera debut in Porgy and Bess in the role of Mingo.
Joe Simmons is a nationally recognized leader in the cantor ministry as a clinician, convention speaker, and author. In addition to his ministry at Holy Cross-Saint John the Baptist, he serves as director of music and cantor for The Sunday Mass, a national broadcast of the Passionist Community on Freeform TV (formerly ABC Family) and www.TheSundayMass.org. In 2008, he was honored to serve as psalmist for the papal Mass in Yankee Stadium during Pope Benedict XVI’s pastoral visit to the United States. His recordings of inspirational music, Sudden Waves and Singing Out, are widely used in healing ministries. Website: www.JoeSimmons.net.
Kathryn Zimmer, soprano, is music director for the contemporary music Mass at Saint John the Baptist (Sunday, 5:15 p.m.). A native of rural Nebraska, Kathryn holds a Master of Music from the Cleveland Institute of Music and a BFA in Music Performance from the University of Nebraska. A versatile performer, she lends classical music in performing and organizing the annual concert to benefit the parish food pantries, as well as folk and popular music in recording and performing live with her band. She has released five collections of her own compositions in this folk/pop style, which can be found on her website.