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Catholic Musicians Make Their Mark Coast to Coast
BY Barb Ernster
When God plants a seed, the outcome knows no bounds.
Mario Costabile found that out when a seed planted in his heart five years ago came to fruition. His multimedia concert production called Array of Hope (ArrayofHope.net) is evangelizing families and youth, creating awareness of Christ’s love and the Catholic faith in an engaging way.
The show is a project of Te Deum Ministries, a religious organization co-founded by Costabile in Paramus, N.J. His professional background as a music and video producer was the perfect foray into creating a concert production that could attract audiences, especially teens.
The two-hour show includes musical acts, speakers and video presentations that emphasize the importance of marriage and family, the beauty of life and a clear presentation of Catholic beliefs. The show has been endorsed by the Archdiocese of Newark as a valuable tool for evangelization in a media-saturated culture, where the Church is marginalized and its teachings are taken out of context.
"We’re competing with the secular market. They’re influencing our youth and families. Array of Hope attempts to explain Catholic beliefs and why religious freedoms are now being threatened. Most people don’t think about these things, and these are the things that the Catholic Church stands for," says Costabile.
"To have a powerful, high-quality presentation that moves them — that’s part of why the Lord has asked me, because it’s what I do."
The Costa Crew, the show’s main musical act, features four of the five Costabile children, ranging in age from 18 to 27, including lead singer Lauren; singer, piano player and guitarist Nicole; guitarist Michael; and drummer Paul. Nine-year-old Mary is awaiting her turn to join the "Crew."
Other performers include Aaron Thompson, who has been in Catholic ministry for 20 years, Christian rock band Sacred Road and Catholic performer Chris Padgett.
Array of Hope has been touring throughout the year, performing at outdoor events, parishes, schools and theaters in New Jersey and New York. Future plans include booking venues in other dioceses across the nation.
Rock With a Message
Universal Youth is the Catholic cry of the Portland, Ore.-based Catholic rock group The Thirsting (TheThirstingCatholic.com) and also the name of its second album, which was released in 2012.
The alternative-rock group is unequivocally Catholic, with songs honoring the Blessed Mother or expressing the need to go to confession.
The group’s leader, Daniel Oberreuter, says music is a powerful tool to spread a message, and The Thirsting is not shy about spreading the truths of the Catholic faith.
Their message is getting through. Oberreuter, who gives a talk on the Rosary during performances, recently got an email from a mother whose son started praying the Rosary after attending the concert.
Certain types of music call for action, adds Oberreuter, and he believes alternative rock — which created a movement among youth in the late ’80s — can spur a Catholic movement and help spread Catholicism to the whole world.
"Rock music is the least important thing in the world. On the other hand, it’s the most important because it can change lives and get us going [to share the faith]," says Oberreuter. "I love to transform a high-school gym into a rock venue. It’s all about meeting the people where they’re at so that we can deliver a message."
Marian Grace released a new album in time for the Advent-Christmas seasons: In the Bleak Midwinter is divided into three sections, with songs celebrating Advent, Christmas and Epiphany, each section introduced with a chant. The album includes familiar hymns as well as some rare hymns.
The Nashville-based musical group was formed by Jimmy Mitchell and Colleen Nixon. Their first album, released in May 2010, was an attempt to breathe new life into ancient Catholic hymns that they discovered while attending college at Vanderbilt University. But they could find no good recordings of the hymns. The combination of the hymns and chant, recorded with a simple mix of instrumentals and beautiful vocals, was a surprise hit among youth and adults and was quickly followed by a second album, What Wondrous Love.
"If we loved these songs, we thought other people would too," says Mitchell.
In the Bleak of Midwinter is available at LoveGoodMusic.com, a funding site founded by Mitchell, and distributed by Ignatius Press, as well as through iTunes.
The Advent/Christmas album has been the duo’s biggest request from fans and is Mitchell’s favorite project: "I find myself wanting to pray through this album because it tells a story, the beginning of the greatest story ever."
Consoling Gift of Music
Catholic musician Curtis Stephan, music director at St. Ann’s parish in Coppell, Texas, is on a mission to bring consolation to the grieving through a new CD project, Love Remains: Songs of Consolation (SongsofConsolation.com).
Some 180 people sponsored the project through a funding site, Indiegogo.com, raising $16,000 by June, enough to produce a CD that could be given away as a gift to those who are grieving from the loss of a loved one or in need of consolation. The idea came to Stephan when his father passed away.
"If I didn’t have Christ, I don’t know how I would have come through it. My mother was saying how quiet the house was in the weeks after and how unsettling it was when she started to realize what happened. Part of this [CD project] is to give people something that can comfort them in that time, bring Christ into that moment," he says.
When people buy the CD, they will get an extra one to give away to someone in need. Eight of the 10 songs were written by Stephan, with a very personal connection.
"I wrote the song Legacy for my dad, who lived a very ordinary but holy life. He was a good man," he says.
Two songs, Daylight and Face the East, focus on the rising sun and are a reminder that the Resurrection followed the cross and God can do amazing things if we trust him, explains Stephan.
Other songs are very scripturally based, with many elements of the Psalms.
Stephan hopes that the CD can be a way to reconnect the grieving with Church life. "If we could just connect them back to a community of faith to grieve with them, and give them a CD with a note on when the parish grief group meets — or if a priest could give it to someone at a particular moment — it’s something that can stay with them."
Barb Ernster writes from Fridley, Minnesota.