Thomas Stehle

Tom Stehle has been active in full time music ministry for forty-five years. A native of Butler, Pennsylvania, he has served in the Dioceses of Pittsburgh, PA and Peoria, IL and for the last 35 years in the Archdiocese of Washington DC. For eighteen years prior to his appointment at the Cathedral he was Pastoral Associate for Liturgy and Director of Music Ministries at Our Lady of Mercy Church in Potomac, MD where he was deeply involved in the design of the new church building and the installation of a 66 rank French-romantic pipe organ. During his time there the music program expanded to encompass choirs of all ages and styles including a schola cantorum, handbell choir, as well as the active participation of high school instrumentalists.

In January 2008, Tom was appointed by Archbishop Wuerl as the director of music for the Papal Mass of Pope Benedict XVI at Nationals Park in Washington. Under his direction, four choirs comprised of 775 singers and instrumentalists and the Washington Symphonic Brass orchestra provided music for more than three hours.

In recognition for this work, Tom received the Papal Benemerenti Award on Easter Sunday at the Cathedral the following year. Duquesne University, his undergraduate alma mater honored him with the 2008 “Mind, Heart and Spirit” award for outstanding service to the Church.

In 2015, he was again asked to lead the musical forces for liturgies of Pope Francis’ papal visit to Washington DC, with a Midday Prayer at the Cathedral followed by Mass in collaboration with the Choirs of the National Shrine, and the Choirs and Orchestra of the Catholic University of America. In recognition of that effort he was given another papal honor, the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Medal.

In 2019, 25 years after it was begun, Tom oversaw the completion of the Lively-Fulcher Great Organ of the Cathedral, one of the most significant pipe organs in the United States.

The National Association of Pastoral Musicians named him Pastoral Musician of the Year in 2020. The Award is given to a pastoral musician who has given substantial witness or promotion to the role of pastoral music in parish, diocesan, or institutional life.

In January 2021, Tom oversaw the music of the Inauguration Day Mass, where the bipartisan leaders of Congress joined the new president and vice-president for a Mass prior to the Inauguration ceremonies.  Tom wrote about its significance in a published article, An act of faith: the prayers and music of Biden's Inauguration Day Mass (National Catholic Reporter).

In 2023, He initiated a new choral event in the life of the Cathedral.  Building on the success of the popular Advent Lessons and Carols, an Earth Day Lessons and Carols tradition was begun with readings, poems, hymns, and choral pieces highlighting the beauty and fragility of the earth and the need to protect it.

Tom is also active professionally, having served as vice-chair of the board of directors of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, after having served 10 years as the chair of the Council of Chapters for the same organization. He is a member of the Conference of Roman Catholic Cathedral Musicians and the American Guild of Organists. He also has taught a course on Liturgy for more than 16 years for the EPS program of Trinity University in their Washington DC and Northern VA programs.

He is a frequent clinician and speaker on topics of liturgy, church architecture and music and has published articles in professional journals and magazines including Pastoral Liturgy, Ministry and Liturgy, The Liturgical Singer, and Pastoral Music, including an article on music-making in a cathedral setting in the August-September 2009 Pastoral Music magazine. He has also written a popular series of bulletin inserts on church architecture for the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions, as well as a previously published annotated bibliography on the same topic for the FDLC.

In addition to his undergraduate work at Duquesne University, Tom also earned two graduate degrees (M.A. 1990 and M.Arch. 1997) from the Catholic University of America where he was the recipient of the Caldwell Organ Scholarship and the Magi Endowment for Liturgical Arts. He also studied choral conducting at Westminster Choir College of Rider University.