World Youth Day will feature the talents of many young Catholics, but one is a veteran World Youth Day performer.
Sarah Bauer was featured in Faith & Family magazine’s Everyday Apostles section along with other young Catholic alumni who have become musicians. Here are their stories.
WORLD YOUTH DAY SONGSTRESS
At World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia, this dynamic singer/songwriter hopes to share the same kind of Christian joy she did at World Youth Day, Cologne, Germany.
Bauer, 25, remembers the excitement of seeing young Slovaks come alive to her music, dance and make hand motions to every song.
“Music is one of those things that can cross over language barriers,” said Sarah Bauer. “I was praying I would bring people joy. To see I was an instrument bringing it was a powerful moment for me.”
Bauer has been a popular performer at Proud2BCatholic, parishes, and youth rallies. Her albums feature songs like “All Access,” which was chosen as the theme for the 2007 Steubenville Youth Conferences.
Two songs from her newest CD, “Radiance” — the title track and “My Own Backyard” — captured the top two honors in Faith, Hope and Love International’s 2007 Songwriting Invitational.
“My main message is that each and every one of us is called to shine,” Bauer explained. “It comes directly from Jesus’ saying, ‘You are the salt of the earth … the light of the world … don’t hide your light under a bushel basket.’
“No matter what you’re doing, whether a stay-at-home mom, or kid or doctor,” said Bauer, “God is asking you to figure out what your unique gifts are and share them well.”
She pointed out that in the album’s song “Extraordinary,” based on the wedding at Cana, she asks God to take her “ordinary, like water,” and transform her life into “extraordinary.”
“That song came to me after months of prayer, while journal writing in adoration,” she said. She also looked to Mother Teresa’s message: “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family. Do small things with great love.”
Singing with that message before big crowds means also doing big things with great love. When anyone sees her happiness, and wants to have the same, she names the reason — Jesus Christ.
SAINTS AND HEROES
Fresh out of Loyola University New Orleans where he studied the music business, singer/songwriter David Thies started his own record label — Saints and Heroes.
Why the name?
“I love Catholic saints and am a fan of superheroes,” said Thies. He likes the idea “of a person using special gifts and talents beyond what is ordinary for the common good — for the service of the Church or service of mankind, but most importantly, not using one’s gift just for the service of self.”
Playing with several bands in college and working with Compass campus ministry, Thies already knew, “I wanted to stay faithful to my Catholic faith and have that be an aspect of my music,” he said. “I wanted to bring the Gospel of Jesus subtly,” in the way John Paul II wrote his poetry.
A guitar player-singer whose original songs have refreshing, poignant melodies, 24-year-old Thies considers himself a storyteller. He uses the form to look at what matters in life.
At last year’s Youth and Family Encounter in Atlanta, listeners heard his stories come to life in songs like “I Will Go” from his album “Life, Death, Everything After,” No. 1 this year at HigherCallingMusic.net.
As part of the panel for Young Catholics in Media headed by Legionary Father Jonathan Morris, Thies talked from a music perspective “about being fully Catholic in a secular art form,” he said, “but at the same time trying to see virtue and accomplish a mission on Catholic campuses in changing the culture.”
When playing secular venues, he brings his same original songs that encourage hope.
In his latest release, “Sunset and the Battle,” Thies applies both descriptions to life.
“I always thought riding off into the sunset wasn’t for me,” he said. “I want to be the guy riding into the battle. But a life should be balanced with time for the beauty of the sunset and time for the battle. That’s what I live for in our Catholic faith — the time of the cross and the time of the Resurrection. We have to be men for all seasons.”
THE BEAUTY OF PRAISE
At Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio, newly graduated Gabriela Martinez has found a way to give back to God her talents as a student group leader in music ministry.
“Music has such a real capacity to enrich and uplift people’s hearts and lives,” explains 22-year-old Martinez of her work in this campus ministry. “At Mass it is sanctified, and it is a prayer glorifying God. It encourages people to do the same. There’s no more beautiful use of music than in the liturgy of the Mass.”
Martinez, who plays piano with the other musicians, is exuberant about how this ministry has increased her “awareness of the deep unity in the liturgy of the Mass.”
She also participates in the university’s Born of the Spirit retreats. A source of spiritual healing and growth for her, she became student head of this retreat ministry.
“Because,” explains Martinez, “I wanted everyone on campus to experience the deep love of the Lord and know all the incredible gifts he pours forth with the Holy Spirit. … It’s all about him.”
“Using a pure gift the Lord has given me for music to encourage others is very humbling,” says Martinez. “Watching them pray is the most humbling feeling in the world.”
She also composes religious music and gives concerts. At the Students for Life campus coffeehouse, soprano Gabriela sang her pro-life songs like “Let Me Live.” Off-campus concerts include some at her parish in her hometown of Fort Myers, Fla.
“I’ve been able to perform the words the Lord has spoken to my heart and to share a vulnerable side of my heart with others,” she says of them. “Developing my music has helped me grow, and sharing it has helped others who are experiencing similar trials and joys.”
No wonder she hopes to devote the first year after graduating with a humanities and Catholic culture degree to bringing others her songs of trust, surrender, and abandonment to the Lord’s love.
Staff writer Joseph Pronechen writes from Trumbull, Connecticut.