Joe Holden's just as comfortable behind a church organ as he is in front of the camera.
Investigative reporter for Eyewitness News on WBRE-TV, Holden also organizes the music ministry at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in Pittston, directing the choir and playing the organ for masses.
Holden said the ministry is a stress relief from the demanding job at WBRE of exposing corruption.
TV is so one dimensional, Holden said, my other dimensions come in the form of this little music ministry.
Holden, who taught himself how to play the piano and read music at a young age, has played professionally since he was fifteen. He called it my little music thing, but his talent is what helped him pay the bills through college and later developed into a full-fledged career, but a career done as a true labor of love.
Every Sunday I was clanking away on the organ, Holden, who often filled in for other organists while he was in school, said. Then Monsignor Bendik emailed me.
Holden began what he said hoped would be a life-long pastime. Six years later: so far, so good.
Monsignor John Bendik, pastor of St. John's and friend of Holden's, said the choir has doubled in size since Holden has began the position.
Joe is just so gifted and creative, Bendik said. So eager and excited about music and the Liturgy. We're lucky to have him.
In effort to raise money for the church and its many youth and outreach programs, the Holy Name Society and the Altar and Rosary Society are co-hosting an upcoming Night at The Races fundraiser event.
Holden, who is the chairman for the event, called the societies the backbone of the church. These people do the heavy lifting and a lot of the fundraising, he said, and I'm looking forward to fulfilling [the duty of] Master of Ceremonies.
According to Holden, who is also a member of the parish with both of his children enrolled in the religious education program, St. John's has opened up a whole different set of friendships and relationships in his life.
I love working with them. These people come together and are totally committed to helping others, he said of the St. John's community. The parish is like a beating heart; it's the life of the city of Pittston.
All told, he spent a total of 16 years in Catholic education. He graduated from Cabrini College in Radnor, Delaware County, with a B.A. in English and communication.
Holden joined WBRE in September, 2005. His career began in 2001 at WPHL-TV in Philadelphia, where he manned the assignment desk, covering Philadelphia and the surrounding area. Two years later, he moved to Charlottesville, Virginia. There he was the 11 p.m. reporter, covering a wide range of issues in Thomas Jefferson country.
Holden is also an accomplished musician. Hired at 15, he was one of the youngest music directors employed by an Archdiocese of Philadelphia parish. There he directed a 30-member choir and accompanied a full-roster of masses and parish events. Holden, his wife, Kelly and two children, Joseph and Julianne, live in Swoyersville.
The fundraiser will be held on February 9. Doors open at 6 p.m., with tickets available at the door. The races start at 7 p.m. Complimentary food and beverages will be served. For more info, call the parish office between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at 654-0053.