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323 West Illinois Street - Chicago IL 60654
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Assumption Spotlights > Assumption Spotlights - May 2015



Assumption Spotlights - May 2015


Our Chief Cantor: John Eskola
by Linda Knibs

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord as Psalm 100 proclaims, and that’s exactly what John Eskola does every day.  You may recognize him as the Chief Cantor at Assumption Church, always with a bright smile to greet you and ready to burst into song as the occasion inspires.

John is a native of Ironwood in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.  After graduating from high school and starting college at nearby Northern Michigan University, he headed for the bright lights of the city – in this case, Chicago.  He was working in the student loan department of American National Bank when one day he “left for music”, trading a secure desk job for a series of odd jobs while building his career in Chicago’s music community.  And build he has! 

Among his credits are productions  at the Goodman Theatre, Shubert Theatre, a National Tour of Evita, Candlelight Dinner Playhouse, and Marriott’s Lincolnshire.  He is also a founding member of the Chicago Cabaret Professionals.   Among his cabaret performances are those at Maxim’s, Drury Lane’s West Tower Theatre, The Royal George Cabaret, The Cultural Center and Davenport’s.  In 2007 he was honored with The Helen Coburn Meier and Tim Meier Arts Achievement Award.
While singing at Holy Name Cathedral, he learned of an opportunity to work as a Cantor at Assumption Church during the time Fr. John Dowd was Pastor.   John was drawn to our church since, as he says, “I love singing at Assumption because of the acoustics; it let’s you be artistic”.

John now serves as the Chief Cantor, and coordinates the schedules of himself and Assumption’s  three other cantors, Valerie Glowinski, Cary Lovett and Kate Gray Noon. 

He also leads the choir, which practices every Tuesday at 7 pm and sings at the 10:30 am Mass on the second and fourth Sundays of the month, as well as parish celebrations and special feasts.  The choir is open to everyone who enjoys singing, with no audition required.  Anyone wishing to join should contact John at


AYA's Talented Pianist: Sarah Jenks
by Lauren Hall

If you’ve been at Assumption Young Adult Mass (AYA) on the third Sunday evening of the month, you’ve heard the musical talents of Sarah Jenks.  Sarah has been coordinating music and playing piano for AYA Mass for four years. Since she is not Catholic, she was terrified the first time she played at Assumption because she was unfamiliar with the order of Mass. One of the previous AYA leaders got her up-to-speed with the Mass parts, so Sarah stuck with us and we are so grateful to have her talents every month!

She is helping to grow our AYA music program by bringing in outside vocals, encouraging Assumption musicians, and will soon be adding more instruments.  Sarah’s favorite part about playing for AYA Mass is getting to listen to Fr. Joe’s homilies (that’s really what she said!)! “His homilies are succinct, thought-provoking, humorous, and all together what I hope for from a sermon.”

Since Sarah’s parents were tired of hearing her sing church hymns off-key around the clock, they enrolled her in piano lessons at age 6, or that’s what she assumes, anyway.  Piano led her to choir, where her parents are glad she learned to sing in tune, flute, and participation in many different musical bands and groups. She has performed in venues all over the world, including Carnegie Hall, Disney World, and even in Estonia. 

Sarah and her husband Brad, you’ve seen him cantor every AYA mass, also volunteer their musical and spiritual time and talent with another church, Immanuel United Church of Christ in Evergreen Park.  Sarah plays piano there weekly and has organized a monthly concert series where she brings in singers and instrumentalists to perform. The concert is free, but they take a collection and the money either goes back to the church or to a chosen charity, such as Shriner’s Children’s Hospital, Inspiration Kitchen, and Sharing Notes. Sarah and Brad also teach Sunday School and confirmation classes there.  They are expecting their first baby in July and are beyond excited for this new adventure in their lives!


Better Know Your Church Organ
by Elizabeth Kabacinski

The thundering noise created by a church organ is a familiar sound to many of us, so much so that we may take the music -- and the instrument that creates it -- for granted after a while. In general, organs are complex instruments and the hybrid organ at Assumption is no exception.

The historic origins of the pipe organ can be traced back to the third century BC. At the time, Ctesibius of Alexandria invented an instrument that forced air through pipes using water. By the seventh century AD, bellows were used to maintain air pressure which allowed the organ to evolve into the instrument we know today.

Organs create sound when the organist forces air through pipes. Since you can force air through the same pipe for an indefinite period of time, the notes that sound from an organ can resonate longer than those on a piano or other string percussion instrument. The organist controls the airflow to the pipes with a system of stops, keyboards and foot pedals.

Although pipe organs have been the standard in churches and synagogues for centuries, many churches -- Assumption included -- have switched to hybrid organs.  This type of organ has digital consoles but keep their winded pipes. Our organ, manufactured by Rodgers, combines traditional stops, which adjust the available pipe length and thus change the tone and timbre of the pipe, with digital voices. Our present model was installed several years ago and should last for decades to come.