What do you call three priests, a seminarian and a high school teacher who once discerned the priesthood, and who decided to form a band?
The Soubirous – as in St. Bernadette Soubirous, the French teenager to whom the Blessed Mother appeared in 1858 in Lourdes, France.
The band debuted at an appropriate location: St. Bernadette Parish in Westlake, where the quintet wowed the crowd when they played an hourlong set on Sept. 16 during the first night of the parish’s annual Heart & Harvest Festival.
Father Menkhaus, who was ordained in May, serves as parochial vicar at St. Bernadette. Father Zerucha, ordained in 2011, is pastor of St. Bernard and St. Mary parishes in Akron. Father Roth, ordained in 2014, has worked with the Tribunal and is studying in Rome to become a canon lawyer. He joined the band while home for a visit over the summer and returned to Rome on Sept. 18.
Garvin is in his fourth year of studies at Saint Mary Seminary and hopes to be ordained a transitional deacon next spring as he continues discerning the priesthood.
Stovicek taught at Lake Catholic High School and currently is a teacher at Notre Dame Cathedral Latin School.
Father Menkhaus was featured recently in Northeast Ohio Catholic magazine for writing a song, “Lord I am Not Worthy,” for the Eucharistic Revival.
“We were talking about The FEST and some parishioners knew I was a musician,” Father Menkhaus said. One thing led to another, and he approached his friends to see if they’d be interested in forming a band to play at St. Bernadette’s festival.
They agreed and managed to squeeze in one practice session before the festival. “Priests are busy,” Father Zerucha quipped.
Their wardrobe was a no-brainer: black pants, shirts and Roman collars for the priests, a cassock for Garvin and a shirt and tie for Stovicek.
The five are no strangers to music or performing. Father Zerucha plays the drums and tambourine. He said he was involved with the contemporary choir for Teens Encounter Christ at St. Adalbert Parish in Berea, his home parish.
Garvin plays keyboards, bass guitar and organ. “I can figure out just about any instrument,” he said.
Stovicek plays mandolin and banjo while Father Roth plays guitar. Stovicek, Father Zerucha and Father Roth played together previously.
Word spread about their new group and a large crowd formed under the tent to enjoy the music. Students from St. Bernadette School, family and friends of the musicians cheered them on during the performance.
With Roth back studying in Rome, the group’s future is uncertain.
“We’ll leave it up to God,” Father Menkhaus said, regarding any future performances.