Holy Family names Michelle O’Brien as new Director of Worship

Holy Family Catholic Community has selected Michelle O’Brien to become the parish’s new Director of Worship when Paul Thelen retires from the role on January 31, 2024.

Prior to this position, Michelle has served at St. Mary’s Springs Academy as the K-3 music teacher for more than three years, helping to foster in the students a love of music and to orchestrate moving Christmas concerts. “Her heart, passion for music, and the relationships she built with her students are only two of the many gifts that SMSA will miss,” SMSA Elementary Principal Steve Kelnhofer said.

“While we are of course sad to see Michelle leave St. Mary’s Springs Academy, we are excited that she will remain within our Catholic family and involved with SMSA. Michelle is a wonderful musician and devoted Catholic, and we have no doubt that she will thrive in this role. We wish her the best,” St. Mary’s Springs Academy President Stacey Akey said.

Michelle is uniquely suited for the Director of Worship role. Holding a bachelor’s degree in Theology and Music from Marian University, Michelle has been employed by Holy Family for eight years as a liturgical musician, becoming a familiar face and voice behind the piano and organ at Masses across all our parish sites. Through her incredible musical talents and deep love of the Lord, she has added to the atmosphere of beauty and reverence at Mass, and this past year, she encouraged others to do so as well as the director of the St. Peter’s Choir.  In these capacities, she has worked closely with Paul Thelen.

Although Michelle enjoyed helping students grow in their talents and faith at SMSA, it has been her hope for many years to pursue her love of liturgical music and worship. When Paul Thelen announced his retirement earlier this year from his role, Michelle saw it as the perfect opportunity. After much prayer and discernment, it became clear to her that applying for this position was the next logical step in her professional career and personal growth.

“I am so grateful and excited to continue living out my joy and passion of our Catholic Faith as the Director of Worship at Holy Family! There is a special place in my heart for both SMSA and Holy Family, and although I will no longer be teaching elementary music at SMSA, I look forward to continued involvement in school liturgies, solo and ensemble, other musical events, and supporting my own four children in their Catholic education at SMSA. I will always cherish the memories I have made with my colleagues and students, and look forward to making more memories together in new ways!”

It is the hope of both the parish and St. Mary’s Springs Academy that Michelle can serve as a bridge and that the children she taught at SMSA will become more involved at the parish, particularly in our choirs.

Michelle will begin her new position at Holy Family on Tuesday, January 2, and looks forward to working with the Holy Family musical staff and volunteers.

“I have marveled at the awesome ways the Holy Spirit has been alive and at work in the gifts Paul Thelen has received, nourished, and graciously shared with Holy Family, and it is an honor and joy that this torch, so to speak, has now been passed down to me.  I am so grateful for this opportunity to serve as the Director of Worship and so excited to learn and grow together with our amazing and precious faith community!”