Music, it is sometimes said, cuts across all boundaries.
That’s one reason why hundreds of Notre Dame university students and youth from around Perth converged on the University’s Drill Hall in Mouat Street, Fremantle, on the Feast of the Assumption to hear American Catholic singer Steve Angrisano.
Angrisano, whose music has surged in popularity in the last decade as an alternative to the bland fare of pop culture, has performed at World Youth Days and is now a leading fixture in the faith music scene; he was in Perth to lend a hand to Catholic Youth Ministry’s ongoing promotion of the Year of Grace.
But if it was a concert aimed at the young, it was not like any of the normal kind carefully calculated by promoters to draw youth and their money – after all, most concerts of the kind youth flock to these days don’t begin with Mass celebrated by a Catholic bishop. Nor do they feature Eucharistic Adoration.
Instead, Angrisano’s appearance in the jointly hosted evening between Notre Dame and CYM was aimed at marking the Year of Grace called by Australia’s bishops when in Rome during their ad limina visit last October, and helping young people hear a message largely absent from contemporary culture: the importance of contemplating the face of Christ.
The Mass, celebrated for the solemnity of the Assumption, featured the Angrisano-composed ‘Mass of a Joyful Heart’ music setting, supported by parish musicians from Bateman and Myaree youth music ministries.
After Mass concelebrated by Bishop Donald Sproxton and other Perth clergy, Angrisano set himself the task of helping to lead participants in a journey from an inward-looking focus on self to experiencing an outward-looking, Christ-focused contemplation.
Bishop Sproxton’s homily honed in on the occasion of the Solemnity of the Assumption, outlining how Marian devotion deepens our relationship with Christ.
As he spoke, a statue of Mary, borrowed from a generous family of the Archdiocese for the occasion served, as a reference point throughout the night.
Between Mass and Angrisano’s polished performance, which included dialogue and banter with his audience, the glow-sticks came out as participants got the opportunity to experience some local talent: dancers of The Assumption Crew who came on stage after an engaging performance by upcoming band, SeaKeeper.
During the concert, Angrisano’s energetic and relational style of ministry had everyone up singing and dancing with the music.
The American musician’s stories shared a testimony of faith through the journey of life in its trials and in its quirky moments.
Building on Bishop Sproxton’s account of St John and St Luke’s care for Mary,
Angrisano outlined the importance of seeing Christ in others with songs and stories.
The night culminated in a personal invitation from Bishop Sproxton to young people to enter into the ‘Year of Grace’, encouraging them to spend this year developing their relationship with Jesus.
Bishop Sproxton led all present in 10 minutes of silent adoration before a lively end with more music from Angrisano.
The CYM office also launched its WYD packages for Rio de Janeiro and announced the upcoming meeting for pilgrims interested in travelling to Brazil in July 2013.