ASHWAUBENON — There’s something cool about the Catholic Church, according to Sean Faccio: “It’s always been music-focused and art-focused.” Coincidentally, so is Faccio. Since the 2020 Christmas season, he’s been using his talents in the arts — music in particular — to enrich the Mass experience for parishioners of St. Francis Xavier Cathedral in Green Bay.
Faccio, the son of Lisa Niespodvany and Ray and Stephanie Faccio, has been a lifelong member of Nativity of Our Lord Parish. He’s had an interest in guitar ever since childhood. “It goes back to listening to rock music and alternative music. My dad got me into a lot of that at an early age,” he said. “I started guitar lessons when I was about 8 years old. I played mostly jazz through high school, then I went to classical more during college.”
A 2006 graduate of Ashwaubenon High School, Faccio earned a bachelor of arts degree in music, with a concentration in classical guitar, from Lawrence University in Appleton in 2010. “I teach private guitar lessons, write music and perform gigs” he said, noting there are few jobs in his field except for teaching.
Faccio also works with his father in their family business, Faccio/Deneen Group, an advertising agency management firm.
A couple times a month, Faccio volunteers to play guitar at the 9 a.m. Mass at the cathedral. He coordinated this through Regina Reale, the music director. “She was the one who responded and was receptive about me volunteering there from the get-go,” he said. “She’s been encouraging and helpful. She plays organ, accompanying me on some things.”
Performing at church isn’t new for Faccio. “I played in high school in the youth choir band and sang in choir at Nativity as well,” he said.
“The parishioners at the cathedral are similar to the crowd that is receptive to my playing at other gigs,” he said. “It’s people who appreciate that kind of music. They will approach me after Mass. I’ve gotten good responses every time I’ve played.”
There were several reasons Faccio offered to perform at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral.
“For volunteer purposes, for experience purposes as a player and as a way to (deepen my) worship experience,” he said. “It’s good to do volunteer things like that as a musician. Most of the time, I’m trying to get paid, but it’s good to have something on the side that you do for a higher purpose. When you’re playing, you’re highly focused, but you do try to experience the moment for its worship purpose as well.”
Performing at the cathedral is something Faccio can see doing well into the future. “It’s good for all those purposes that I mentioned, and I think it’s something that’s good in the same way that going to church regularly is good. It’s a replenishing act,” he said.
Dynamic worship music is a tool used by other faiths to draw young people to church. Faccio hopes his music is doing the same.
“People enjoy this music because of the unusual nature of it, it’s the novelty of the guitar,” he said. “It’s something that people don’t hear often, so I think in those ways it’s inspiring to the people attending Mass at the cathedral. It’s definitely good for those purposes, but it also suits the acoustics of the building well.”
In the future, Faccio would like to compose sacred music for classical guitar. “I have some books with sacred music in it. Those things are always good,” he said. “Hopefully, as I compose music, it will catch on and I can advance myself with my creativity that way.”
In the meantime, Faccio will keep sharing his talents at the cathedral. “I want to do a lot of things musically, but playing at the cathedral is definitely a proud accomplishment for me,” he said.