Jane Hubbard is stepping down after more than 30 years of leading musicians at the Cleveland parish
By Dan McWilliams
Jane Hubbard has served as the director of music at St. Thérèse of Lisieux Parish in Cleveland for more than 30 years, after being a longtime pro-life advocate, but she is transitioning this fall to becoming a full-time parishioner and grandmother.
“I have been blessed with grandchildren who need their ‘Janou,’” Mrs. Hubbard said of her decision to retire. “Also, I have so many details in my life that I have ignored or put on my bucket list, and with the crushing uncertainty of life, I decided to make the move. I do have some hearing loss due to Meniere’s Syndrome but have been blessed with a wonderful audiologist.
“It has been such a difficult decision, as I remain a very active person. I joke to friends that I am entering the ‘third half of life,’ as opposed to Richard Rohr’s two halves of life that he writes about in Falling Upward. I crossed into the second half 30 years ago when I entered a new phase and a new understanding of life. I am, again, transforming my spiritual life and have no idea where this is leading me. One of my favorite prayers is Merton’s, ‘My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.’ I am sure it will be an adventure, though!”
Father Mike Nolan, pastor of St. Thérèse, is one of several pastors Mrs. Hubbard has served under.
“Jane has officially served at St. Thérèse of Lisieux Parish as music director for our choirs to enhance our liturgies,” he said. “However, her value to our parish goes way beyond her musical skills and credentials. Jane’s knowledge of and relationship with many of our faith community has kept countless individuals from ‘falling through the cracks.’ From arranging for them to receive Holy Communion while homebound to her open ear that has fostered many to return to church, some having ‘left’ the Church for decades.”
Mrs. Hubbard’s love for Church music began at an early age.
“I began singing in my home parish in Ohio in the third grade when the Mass was in Latin,” she said. “Mrs. Helen Vogel was our parish music director, and she was always so enthusiastic about music that it was contagious. After I took piano lessons and some organ, Mrs. Vogel encouraged me to play the organ for weekday Masses (6:30 a.m.) and some Sunday Masses. I loved to spend hours practicing in an empty church that was just across the street from our family home.
“In high school, I played for weekday morning Masses at 6:30 a.m. before attending school and for some Sunday Masses. I was also a substitute organist for Annunciation Catholic Church and Westminster Presbyterian Church in Akron, Ohio, for two years just out of college.”
That high school was Upper Sandusky in Ohio, from which she graduated in 1967.
“I earned a bachelor of music degree from Mary Manse College in Toledo in 1971. That same year, I married John Hubbard of Toledo, and together we raised four children during our 25 years of marriage,” Mrs. Hubbard said. “In 1999, I obtained a master’s in pastoral theology from Loyola University (Loyola Institute for Ministry) in New Orleans. Following that, I facilitated another group through its master’s program.”
In the 1970s, Mrs. Hubbard’s life would take another course.
“In 1973, I became passionately involved in the right-to-life movement in Akron, Ohio. In 1975, Ann Marie Segedy and I instigated two foundational case laws called City of Akron v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health (Akron) and Ohio v. Akron Center for Reproductive Health (Akron II). As the laws were challenged, they eventually went before the Supreme Court and became the vehicle for the newly elected Justice Sandra Day O’Connor to make her first rulings on abortion.”
Mrs. Hubbard continued her pro-life work after moving with her family to Cleveland, Tenn., in 1980.
“I served 10 years as a lobbyist and six years as president of Tennessee Volunteers for Life. In that position, I also served on the board of the National Right to Life Committee in Washington, D.C. In 1985, along with Rosemary Poston and Dee Sorensen, we founded the origins of what eventually became the New Hope Pregnancy Center in Cleveland.”
Mrs. Hubbard has served as the director of music at St. Thérèse since Sept. 1, 1990, when she was hired by Father Mike Linder.
“Prior to that I had a youth choir for three years under Father Paul Valleroy and was an accompanist for a year under Father Louis Junod.”
She has served in other music-related areas since becoming director at St. Thérèse.
“In 1995 I was appointed the co-chair of the Diocesan Liturgical Musicians Committee, along with Louise Wyman, and continued working in that capacity until the fall of 2010. In 1998, Father Mike Creson, then-dean of the Chattanooga Deanery, hired me to be the administrative coordinator for the Chattanooga Deanery. Although the nature of this job changed over the years, I am still volunteering in this capacity.”
Mrs. Hubbard has also found another outlet for her talents.
“I have also worked in the parish health ministry by serving for many years as the co-chair of the community host group for the Remote Area Medical (RAM) clinics, begun by Stan Brock. I became involved in 2005 and have worked in over 12 clinics in Cleveland/Bradley County.”
Mrs. Hubbard has seen many types of Church music through the years.
“My life spans the Gregorian Hymnal, the post-Vatican II folk music, Glory and Praise, and all liturgical music moving forward,” she said. “In my ministry, it has always been an absolute must to read the readings of any liturgy for which I am planning music. I often tell the choir that I don’t always pick music that I like, but I do choose music that pairs with the readings or themes. It was also important to me to challenge the congregation in going beyond their comfort zone. Like anything else, we can get into liturgical music ruts to the point that the sung prayer becomes lifeless. Our prayers—our sacred language—to God comes in many different languages, so why cannot our sung prayer come in many different styles?”
COVID-19 brought another change.
“During the COVID shutdown when we had no choirs, we experimented more with contemporary music,” Mrs. Hubbard said. “With only an accompanist and cantor(s), and with no hymns, we really enjoyed bringing in fresh music, along with keeping up with the more traditional hymns. A little something for everyone.
“I have been a long-time member of National Pastoral Musicians, and I have always enjoyed all that they bring to the world of liturgical music, especially when I was able to attend the yearly conventions.”
Mrs. Hubbard talked about her legacy to the parish and to the diocese.
“My hope and prayers are that I brought consistently good, spiritual, liturgical music to our sung prayer,” she said. “I always relied on the talents of our long-retired organist, David Elrod, Dr. Douglas Manley, now Doug’s sister, Carla Brown, who serves as our pianist, and our guitarist, Dr. Jim Knabb. My replacement, Shanna DiGiovanni, is brimming with vocal and instrumental talent. They have all been such blessings to St. Thérèse.
“On the diocesan level, we were so blessed with great talent in our fledgling diocese. My great joy was working with our Diocesan Liturgical Musicians Committee and organizing three weekend retreats for all our diocesan musicians. We were able to share ideas, music, liturgy, and friendships during these retreats. It was recognized by our committee that there is little support for church musicians overall, not just financially, but more importantly, spiritually. These retreats were so welcomed and enjoyed. We all know that you cannot feed others (spiritually) if you haven’t fed yourself.”
The musicians committee brought together more than 320 musicians for the ordination of Bishop Richard F. Stika in 2009.
Mrs. Hubbard has served under many priests at St. Thérèse.
“I have worked for Father Mike Nolan twice as our St. Thérèse pastor and twice as the dean of the Chattanooga Deanery. Including him, I have worked under 10 pastors/administrators and additional associates in our parish.”
The outgoing music director praised the people who have helped in her ministry.
“I cannot say enough about the many wonderful people who have participated in our music ministry,” Mrs. Hubbard said. “These people have been consistently dedicated enough to attend a weekly rehearsal and a 30-minute rehearsal before each Mass. I consider them dear friends, and they have been and are my constant support.”
Mrs. Hubbard’s replacement, Mrs. DiGiovanni, moved to Cleveland in 2012 from New Orleans.
“Shanna is a 2003 graduate of the University of New Orleans, with a BA in instrumental music education,” Mrs. Hubbard said. “Shanna, her husband, Chris, and son, William, joined St. Thérèse of Lisieux Parish in 2014.”
Mrs. Hubbard has a daughter, Monica Jenkins, and sons Dennis, Peter, and Paul Hubbard, and six grandchildren.
“My children learned to expect a delayed Christmas Day celebration so that I could recover from Christmas Eve and mornings Masses, and that applied to Holy Week and Easter as well,” she said. “Honestly, it couldn’t have been easy for them, but I must have done something right because they are all wonderful adults. And all of them have been involved in whitewater rafting to some capacity, three of them being excellent kayakers. I have been blessed by them, their spouses, and now their children.”
Father Nolan spoke of how Mrs. Hubbard has “helped form” the 10 pastors and administrators she has served under.
“Through all these transitions, she has provided stability, continuity, and guidance when asked,” he said. “Jane is flexible in liturgical requests and faithful to her duties. She has been instrumental in many of the social outreach ministries of the parish and beyond our parish community, most notably in bringing the RAM clinic to the Cleveland area. She has a wealth of knowledge in so many areas and lives her faith in words and works.”
Besides taking part in Bishop Stika’s ordination and serving in the “unpaid” deanery position, Father Nolan said, Mrs. Hubbard “has participated in numerous Chrism Masses and has been called upon for several ordinations,” he added. “Our parish has significantly benefited from her numerous gifts, and I will miss working with her. Thankfully she will continue as an active parishioner, though now with an added ability in enjoying more time with her grandchildren.”
Father Nolan also welcomes aboard Mrs. DiGiovanni as “another blessing our parish has received.”
“Shanna has offered her considerable skills as a flutist, cantor, and choir member of St. Thérèse since 2013 and has regularly directed the choir when Jane needed to be away. In addition, she has directed our youth choir since 2017.”
An outdoor Mass and picnic Oct. 3 in honor of parish patroness St. Thérèse of Lisieux served “as Jane’s last hurrah as an employee while transitioning to full-time parishioner and grandma,” Father Nolan said.
Mrs. Hubbard has thought about what she will miss most in retirement.
“I have missed so many parishioners during this past year and a half, I will miss the weekly camaraderie and collaboration of such wonderful friends,” she said. “I do plan to help our new director when needed, and I will look forward to singing with the choir as we move forward.”