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Teen church music director

Ask anyone at St. Ignatius of Loyola Church in Lowell about Olivia H. LeBlanc’s musical talent and you’re likely to hear a chorus of praise for the volunteer music director.
 
“She has a wonderful voice, and we are lucky to have her” to lead the music at Mass, commented parishioner Gail Sicotte.
 
“Music makes the Mass more spiritual. We’re lucky to have her,” echoed parishioner Anne Cote.
 
Besides her musical talent and her dedication to parish music ministry, what makes Olivia noteworthy is her age: She is 17.
 
“It’s excellent to have someone that young who is willing to commit herself” to leading music on Sundays and holy days, commented Father Roger Charbonneau, a senior priest of the Diocese of Burlington who celebrates Sunday Masses at St. Ignatius Church. “I don’t think we would have music without her” because of the small size and older membership of the church.
 
The daughter of Andre and Sara LeBlanc has been a member of St. Ignatius Church all her life, and she enjoys attending Mass. “I feel peace after I’ve been,” she commented.
 
A couple years ago she was asked to take responsibility for music at Mass when the previous music director left, and at first she hesitated. “I was nervous,” she said. But after praying about it and realizing that her participation in theater and chorus productions would help her in the church role, she accepted.
 
“It feels good to share that gift from God,” Olivia said. “We need to share our gifts to build up the Church.”
 
Entering her senior year at Lake Region Union High School in Orleans, the Lowell resident – a soprano – sings in the school chorus, Select Chorus and Treble Ensemble. She participates in drama productions and throws the shot put and discus on the track and field team.
 
Olivia also plays the flute in the school concert band and the saxophone in the jazz band. In addition, she plays the clarinet, some keyboard and a bit of trumpet.
 
“Music is relaxing,” she said. And the songs at church “are prayers” that relax her and help her feel closer to God.
 
As church music director, she selects the songs that will be sung – sans organ accompaniment. She studies the readings that will be used at the Mass – “you have to understand them” – then makes her selections for the entrance, offertory, communion and recessional songs, which she often begins at Mass with a note from a pitch pipe “so I know what key the song is in.”
 
“Music brings more life to Mass,” Olivia said, adding that music is important to young people. She would like to see more of them at church and encourages parents to take them.
 
Though she does not have a favorite liturgical composer, she is a fan of country music, especially Carrie Underwood. And she likes Christmas carols, particularly “The First Noel” and “O Holy Night.”
 
A clerk at a local store, Olivia is a member of the Encountering Jesus Catholic youth ministry group in the Lowell/Troy area. She would like to attend college and study music with the hope of becoming a music teacher.
 
“Music helps us praise God,” Father Charbonneau said.
 
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