Agnieszka (Aga) Bieniek, Co-Coordinator for Programming, is native of Poland, received her education in Poland at the Frederic Chopin Conservatory with a double Master’s degree in the Art of Music Education and in Choral Conducting with honors, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Piano Performance, with honors. She has experience working for over 30 years as a professional musician in both the education and liturgical music fields. She came to United States in 2003. From 2004- 2009 she was Music Director and music teacher at Gilmour Academy, Our Lady Chapel, Gates Mills, OH. In 2009 she became the Director of the Music Ministry at St. Noel, Willoughby Hills, OH. From 2009 she is a member of NPM. Agnieszka has two children and a husband Andrzej. They live in Eastlake, OH.
Dan Bergen, MSEE, is a retired electrical engineer who enjoys developing web sites, preparing taxes for area immigrants and music of all styles. An active member of NPM since the mid-1990s Dan has been cantor, choir member, guitar accompanist and Music Director in various area churches and has enjoyed teaching and developing musical appreciation and skills in others. Serving the Cleveland Chapter of NPM is a labor of love and I look forward to an active chapter. Dan and his wife, Marilyn, live in Painesville.
Herb Dillahunt, BSME, Chapter Director for NPM Cleveland is a recent arrival to the Cleveland diocese and has been the Director of Music at St. Clarence Parish in North Olmsted since August 2015. Having spent the past several years in the diocese of Pittsburgh, he was Pittsburgh Chapter Director from 2005 until his departure in 2015 and was chair of the NPM National Convention held in Pittsburgh in 2012. Herb is a graduate of Duquesne University and has done graduate work in choral conducting and handbells at Westminster Choir College in Princeton NJ, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. Herb has been a member of NPM since 1979. "A strong local NPM chapter is very important to me. Building a parish family with our own diocesan musicians is our goal. I have found that networking is our best resource.
Melissa found her love of music at the age of 5, when she began studying piano with her mom and, eventually, with a friend of the family. At the age of 10, she enrolled in the Cleveland Institute of Music Preparatory Department with her older sister. There they studied piano with Miss Olga Radosavljevich and music theory with Marshall Griffith, Joe Ogrin, and Adeline Huss. Melissa continued her studies there through high school, joining the Young Artist program her senior year, and earned her Bachelor of Music degree from CIM in 1995. She furthered her education in voice at Baldwin Wallace College and theology at St. Mary’s Seminary. For the past 24 years, she has directed music ministries for the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland, and is currently the music director at Our Lady of the Lake Parish in Euclid, OH, where she plays the organ and piano, cantors, composes, coordinates a program of more than 100 people– youth and adult, and partakes in a few ecumenical events throughout the year. She lives across the street from her parents in Brook Park, with her husband Greg and their 3 children: Nolan, age 16, Nina, 13, and Anthony, 5.
Coordinator for Hospitality
Lori Geyer graduated from Cleveland State University in 1982 with a degree in medical technology. She began at St Albert the Great as an organist in 1975 (15 years old) and became the music director in 1989. Over these many years the music program has grown from one adult choir to 5 vocal choirs, a handbell choir, three instrumental ensembles and a cantor program. She studied with Howard Wellman, Norman Vopat, Phyllis Retzlaff and Dr Meszaros at Cleveland State University. Besides the piano and organ Lori plays the flute and bassoon. One of the things she enjoys is working with people to help them develop their musical gifts. She has three grown children and has been married to her husband for 33 years. Besides music, Lori loves to travel, read and cross stitch. She is excited to be working with everyone in the chapter.
Constant Contact, Publicity, Newsletter
Mary Hrich has been a liturgical musician in the Diocese of Cleveland since 1984, when she first met Paul (her husband) as part of the contemporary ensemble at St. Martin of Tours. A native of Maple Heights, Mary is currently the Director of Liturgy and Music at St. Mary Magdalene in Willowick. Mary’s ministry has included service to the communities of St. Martin of Tours (Maple Heights), St. Monica’s (Garfield Heights), Church of the Resurrection (Solon), St. Michael’s (Independence), Ss. Cosmas and Damian (Twinsburg) and the Community of St. Joseph (Rocky River). Mary graduated from John Carroll University with honors and has a BS in Psychology, with a minor in theology.
In 1993, Mary and Paul founded AbleWRITE, Inc., a technical writing and graphic design agency. In 2000, they added a Proforma franchise to expand offerings. Together, AbleWRITE and Proforma provide breadth and depth in high-quality technical writing, printing, promotional materials, and e-commerce solutions.
In 2012, Bob Soeder and Mary Hrich began their first formal collaboration: Sustaining the Journey, a ministry resource to help care for those who care for others. Through workshops, retreats, concerts, and a variety of offerings, Sustaining the Journey events encourage, develop, and affirm attendees. With attention to detail and a passion for good liturgy, Bob and Mary bring a synergy that helps others grow.
Mary and Paul have 4 children (Timmy, Chris, Jess and Abby) and currently reside in Solon, OH. As their children can attest (often with rolling eyes), Mary believes that if something is worth doing, it is worth doing well. She believes in lifelong learning, reaching higher, and being inspired regularly by even the small things in life.
Bridget Jankowski earned her BA in piano performance from St. Joseph's College in Renssalaer, Indiana and is working in the northeast Ohio area as a church musician, teacher, accompanist and workshop clinician. She currently serves as the Director of Music at St. Matthew Parish in Akron, Ohio. She also maintains a private Suzuki piano and Body Mapping studio and accompanies for local artists, events and community theater as time permits.
She has been involved in somatic disciplines, namely Alexander Technique and Body Mapping, for over twenty years. Her book “Body Mapping for Music Ministers” was recently published by GIA. She has been invited to present Body Mapping classes, lectures, workshops and residencies across the country, has presented at several national conferences and has served as a clinician at numerous institutes and festivals. She is currently on the faculty of the Indiana Music Festival and Suzuki Institute which takes place each year in July.
Bridget has served on many non-profit boards and has been involved with the creation of three new non-profit organizations. She was an original board member and is the immediate past-president of Andover Educators, the international organization for the Body Mapping community. She currently lives in Cuyahoga Falls and is the mother of three adult gentlemen.
Angela Kovacs is the Director of Music and Liturgy at St. Mary’s Church in Berea, Ohio. She received her bachelor’s degree of Sacred Music at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Before working in the Catholic Church, Angela worked part time as an organist at several Protestant churches, which probably explains her love of blending traditional and contemporary music together. Music has always been a passion for Angela, at twelve years old she was the youngest current member at St. Columbkille’s traditional choir. Though Angela tried to study Sociology for two years at Baldwin Wallace University, her true career calling was music, and God helped her to find her way where she belongs sharing her talents in Catholic music ministry. Angela is excited to be planning her second hymn festival for the Christmas season, which is a fun excuse to play the organ and sing along to our good traditional hymns! Angela is currently not married, but hopes to be soon! She has two feline children that she holds dear to her heart, and is excited for what the future brings. Angela is also very passionate about finding God everywhere in life. Through her church bulletin articles, Angela encourages all who read it to find sacred in the secular, and to keep their hearts open to God’s direction, no matter how difficult it may be! Life has been challenging, but with a positive attitude and faith in God, Angela knows that her life will always be spiritually fulfilling with her career as a music minister.
Co-coordinator for Programming
Charlene McElwee is a graduate of both Michigan State University with a degree in piano performance/ piano pedagogy and the Cleveland Institute of Music with the first degree ever granted in Collaborative Piano. In her final year at CIM she began accompanying the St. Dominic choir in Shaker Heights (under the director of Cal Stepan) for Tuesday night rehearsals and became irresistibly attracted to the work of pastoral music and its transformative power in the lives of normal human beings. She has been a full time pastoral musician in the city of Cleveland for thirty years and currently serves as Minister of Music and Liturgy at St. Malachi Church, near the flats and Ohio City. She believes that frequent contact with fellow pastoral musicians is a huge key to staying centered and grateful and is happy to be working with such a positive, dedicated and FUN team that is our local NPM Chapter Board.
Membership, Email Communications
Bob Soeder is in his seventeenth year as Director of Liturgy and Music at St. Monica Church in Garfield Hts., Ohio - and has formerly served at St. Mary Magdalene (Willowick), St. Francis of Assisi (Gates Mills), Our Lady of Mt. Carmel (Wickliffe) and Associate Organist at a number of parishes throughout the Diocese of Cleveland.
As member of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians (NPM), Bob has served in various capacities on the board of the Cleveland Chapter, and currently serves on the board of the Cleveland Chapter of the American Guild of Organists (AGO). In the 1980's, Bob served as a member and chairperson of both the Diocesan Music Committee and the Diocesan Worship Commission, and was a founding member of the North Coast Association of Pastoral Ministers (NOCALM).
Throughout the 1990's, he created and produced St. Mary Magdalene's successful Music in the 90's Concert Series. During this time he presented a number of liturgy workshops on the Diocesan level as well as workshops and retreats through St. Joseph’s Christian Life Center and Cleveland NPM. In 2012, Bob teamed up with Mary Hrich (Director of Liturgy and Music at St. Mary Magdalene Church) to launch “Sustaining the Journey.” Together they have presented numerous workshops and retreats for parishes throughout Northeastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania and for the Cleveland Chapter of the NPM and the Erie Pennsylvania Chapter of the AGO, .
Bob holds Pastoral Ministry Certifications from the Diocese of Cleveland and Notre Dame College of Ohio. He has studied organ and piano with Dr. Margaret Scharf, Crandall Hendershott, Dr. Joseph Howard and Art Brozé - and conducting with Dr. Warren Scharf. Bob is also a retired 4th Degree Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do, and currently teaches Kang Do Tai Chi (a self-created art) at the Kang Do Won Marital Arts Institute in Wickliffe OH.
Until she passed away in June 2015, Bob was married for 30 years to Maureen (the love of his life). He currently resides in Wickliffe OH.
Jon Thibo began serving the church as an organist; cantor and choir member in 1977 at his home parish, St. Ann in Indianapolis, Indiana. He is now celebrating forty years of music ministry within the church. Jon is in his tenth year as Director of Music Ministry at St. Columbkille Church, Parma, Ohio. He has eight choirs there, plays organ, piano, cantors, directs from the keyboard and is a member of the Handbell Quartet there as well. He has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Music Education from the University of Indianapolis, Cum Laude, “With Distinction.” He studied voice under Elaine Norwood and Jena Adrianson, piano with Dr. Richard Ratliff and conducting with Dr. Paul Krasnovky and Dr. George Weimer. Jon was a choral director in high schools, middle school and elementary for sixteen years before finally taking up the role of full-time church Director of Music in 2002. Jon performed in The Stephen Foster Story, The Fantasticks, The Music Man, South Pacific, Cosi Fan Tutte, La Boheme, and The Marriage of Figaro, as well as many other school and community theater and opera productions. Jon is a member of the National Pastoral Musicians and DMMD Division of that professional organization as well as past member of ACDA and MENC.