In the fall of 1947 a group of twenty-five young people came together under the direction of Mr. Clarence Millard Hightower and formed the Blessed Martin DePorres Choral Ensemble. That group has evolved into the present Sacred Heart Choral Ensemble. After forty-one years of faithful, tireless; and devoted service Mr. Hightower made his transition on October 10, 1988. To this day two charter members remain Mr. Ernest Peltier accompanist, and Mrs. Maxine (Jaggers) Adams.

The Ensemble’s primary purpose was to provide music for the Sunday morning High Mass and Holy Days of the church and to give concerts to the community at large. Therefore, the musical expertise included traditional Gregorian chant as well as classical, spiritual, theater, folk and the modern gospel of the time to meet these goals. Because of this varied repertoire, the choir received many invitations to a variety of functions of the time including religious (Catholic and non-Catholic), civic and cultural events.

When Vatican Council II encouraged the church to make the liturgy relevant to the congregation, the choir was both ready and able to meet this challenge. To this end Fr. Norman P. Thomas was and remains 100% supportive in encouraging the choir to sing music relevant to the black religious experience.

Before Mr. Hightower’s passing he willed to us Mr. Isaac Prince. Under Mr. Prince’s leadership he continued to carry out the precepts of Mr. Hightower, by encouraging us to sing from the heart, while also understanding the music’s relevance to scripture.

Time also brought us JoAnna Powell and Jerome Jackson. Each of them brought a multitude of gifts that contributed to the choir’s continued growth and development.

In June of 2004, John J.F. Thorne was appointed as Director of Music. John has been a part of this music ministry since he was five. His young age and his desire for excellent worship that is both truly Catholic and authentically black, has taken the choir to another level.


Under his leadership we have a dedicated group of musicians who minister under the anointing. Our current musicians are Eileen Orr, Arthur Miles, Keir Ward and LaVon McPherson.

In 2006, the choir recorded and released it’s debut album… “LIVE…From the Heart” and in 2015 released their second project “Oh Jesus!”

Sixty eight years has brought a multitude of changes, but there has been no change in our mission to, “let all of our lives be music.” This phrase remains as the underlying thrust of the choir’s ministry.

If you want to hear the Sacred Heart Choir, click here.

For the event schedule for the Sacred Heart Choral Ensemble, click here

If you’re interested in joining the Choir, send a message here!