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New Gospel Mass premiering Saturday at the University of Notre Dame

The new work was composed by Fr Carl Gales, a Divine Word priest ordained last year.

(University of Notre Dame)

On April 15, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart at the University of Notre Dame will host the debut of a new Gospel Mass composed by Fr Carl Gales, SVD, a Black Catholic priest serving in Chicago.

“Notre Dame D’Afrique” will be performed by the school’s Voices of Faith Gospel Choir, alongside presider Fr Peter McCormick, CSC and homilist Deacon Mel Tardy of St. Augustine Catholic Church.

The Mass comes in lieu of a spring concert for the 15-voice choir, which hosted guests for a workshop on Thursday evening sampling some of the new music with Gales. The ensemble will sing on Saturday under the leadership of new director Phillip Armstrong, also of Chicago.

“We have some amazing pieces lined up for you that we can't wait to perform,” the choir posted on social media.

The Mass is being held as a collaboration between the Notre Dame Campus Ministry, which McCormick heads, and the Black Student Ministry.

The Gospel Mass comes roughly nine months after another Gospel Mass held in the historic basilica, with attendees of the Black Catholic Joint Conference last July—including members of the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus, in which Tardy served as president. Gales served as homilist at the Mass, which drew attendees from around the region.

The Voices of Faith Choir also sang in the basilica earlier this year during Walk the Walk Week, the university’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration, for an ecumenical prayer service.

In late March, rehearsal clips of the choir singing parts of the “Notre Dame D’Afrique” Mass revealed a multilayered musical approach, featuring various indigenous Black stylings such as gospel and jazz. Gales himself served as a professional musician before entering the seminary, including as a music director at multiple Catholic churches. He was ordained in 2022.

His new composition is one of several new Masses composed by African Americans, including the “Mass of the Next Generation” by Jeffrey Corry and the upcoming “Voice of My People Mass” from M. Roger Holland II.

Gales’ work will premiere at the basilica on Saturday at 7pm ET. The liturgy will be followed by a reception with a soul food dinner, and a recording will be made available for the public.


Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger and a seminarian with the Josephites.


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