‘You can always take music with you’: Parish priest joins Regina band for a day

Shane Schemmel
Father Troy Richmond, pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Iowa City, plays trumpet with the sixth-grade band at Regina Catholic Education Center in Iowa City last month.

By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger

IOWA CITY — A noteworthy guest joined Regina Catholic Education Center’s sixth-grade band last month. Towering above his fellow musicians, Father Troy Richmond pulled out his well-loved silver trumpet and played alongside the students as they rehearsed for an upcoming concert.

The pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Iowa City hoped his visit would show the students that no matter what they do in life and no matter what vocation God calls them to, “you can always take music with you.”

A key change


During the classroom visit, Father Troy briefly shared his journey from music major to priesthood. He first felt the call after attending a TEC retreat in high school but was “really afraid” to pursue it, as priesthood conflicted with his plans to become a band director and raise a family. Father Troy tried to ignore the call but it came back strongly during his junior year at Iowa State University in Ames. “I felt a lot of discontent; I no longer enjoyed being a music student, having to perform in order to make the cut or to make the grade. It became a lot less appealing to me,” he told The Catholic Messenger in a later interview. Around the same time, he began working as a peer minister at St. Thomas Aquinas Student Center on campus. “I lived right above the church in an apartment. I had nightly access to the Blessed Sacrament. That’s where the calling came back in full force.” He entered the seminary after graduation and recently celebrated his 20th anniversary as a priest.

Music and ministry

Music remains an integral part of Father Troy’s life. He encouraged Regina students not to be afraid to use music as a form of expression or as a way to pray and connect with God. “That was certainly my experience as a musician and still is to this day,” he said. He chants with confidence while presiding at Masses and makes time to play trumpet in parish ensembles and at fundraising events.

Practice makes perfect

Megan Glass, fifth- and sixth-grade band teacher, invited Father Troy to play with the class. “Having Father Troy there really helped our band to give their best effort in class and to make the music sound really special,” she said.

Father Troy is new to the Iowa City area but Megan has been familiar with his music and ministry since the mid-2000s when he served at her hometown parish in Fort Madison.

“Father Troy was the officiant at the wedding of my brother and sister-in-law in 2007, so over the course of that wedding weekend, I had the chance to meet Father Troy and get to know a bit about his background in music,” she said. “Last summer, when I heard he was coming to Iowa City, I knew that working with a parish partner who is also an accomplished musician… would help the Regina students.”

A.J. Kopp played trumpet next to Father Troy and was inspired by his story. “He has all of his regular work to do but he still made time to come play with us and he continues to play music in his adult life.”

“He played really well,” said trumpet player Lucy White. “I thought it was interesting to hear how he started as a music major in college and wanted to be a music teacher but then ended up becoming a priest.” She hopes to reach Father Troy’s level of proficiency and continue playing into adulthood.

“Having one of the priests play in the band with us felt really good,” said percussionist Cam Higgins.

The story resonates

Word of Father Troy’s visit spread on social media when the school shared photos and a caption on Facebook and Instagram. The posts were well received by students and adults in the community, said Shane Schemmel, the school’s communications and marketing director. A similar post on The Catholic Messenger’s Facebook page also had a high level of engagement. “It’s wonderful to highlight a priest being involved with students outside of Mass and sharing an interest and activity that he enjoys with them,” Schemmel said when asked why she believes the posts resonated with people.

A note for those discerning priesthood

Father Troy wants those discerning a call to priesthood to know they don’t have to give up all of their interests and hobbies. “I think people need to see there is more to our lives” than celebrating Mass, making hospital calls and administering the sacraments, Father Troy said.  “Priesthood fulfills me but the fact that I can enjoy a lifelong passion simply adds to the vocation God has given to me.”

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