Jo Ellen Kopatich believes children’s choirs give a glimpse into heaven.
“Whenever I hear a children’s choir, I think that’s almost the way heaven’s going to be—that beautiful, innocent sound. I’m drawn to that.”
After 24 years of directing the children’s choir at St. Frances Cabrini in Littleton, Kopatich will be honored for her contributions during the St. Cecilia Mass Nov. 22.
“It’s such an honor,” she said from her Littleton home.
The 74-year-old Fort Morgan native has dedicated her life to music, most of it spent teaching at schools and leading the choir at the Littleton parish.
Ever since she took piano lessons as a young girl and later earned a bachelor’s degree in music education at the University of Colorado, Kopatich knew she wanted to spend her life sharing music. She taught on a Native American reservation in Wyoming, and was a music teacher in Jefferson County Public Schools from 1980 to 2004.
She was active in starting the new St. Frances of Cabrini Parish in the 1970s, originally the Columbine Parish, where she led music during Masses. For 18 years, her husband, Ken, and their four children—who play the flute, violin, clarinet and trombone—helped her play during the “folk” Masses.
“I’ve been a volunteer for so long. My family has also been volunteering there,” she said. “You just don’t think of awards. I think (music) is just something I should do.”
It’s been a long tradition for her family to sing during the Christmas Eve Mass and all of her grandchildren have sung in the children’s choir.
Kopatich also enjoys leading the children performing with handbells.
“They’re really enthusiastic, and they’re good singers. They love the handbells,” she said.
Studying with and graduating from the Denver Catholic Biblical School played a major part in her further leading the children spiritually, she said. She prayed with them regularly and instructed them about the meaning of the texts they sang.
She said she is grateful for the years of service doing the things she loves.
“I have always loved children’s choirs,” Kopatich said. “Through the years the choir has had such dedicated children and parents. I can’t thank them enough for all their support.”
St. Cecilia Mass
When: 9 a.m.-noon Nov. 22
Where: Good Shepherd Church, 2626 E. 7th Ave. Parkway, Denver
What: Blessing for musicians, presentation of St. Cecilia Award
Details: 303-715-3156 or email@example.com