Summer Music 2009

Catholic musicians abound, and listeners can start enjoying summer music festivals this weekend.

The contemporary Catholic music scene was once relegated to a few slots at evangelical Protestant music festivals during the summer months.

But this summer there are plenty of opportunities to hear Catholic artists like Matt Maher, Chris Padgett, Kelly Pease and Sean Forrest.

Concertgoers can get the jump on summer May 17 at Springfest, sponsored by the Springtime of Faith Foundation. The one-day event at the Calsonic Arena in the Nashville suburb of Shelbyville will feature Catholic speakers and performing artists.

The youth who attend the 19 conferences sponsored by Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, in 11 states and Canada this summer will be treated to music concerts in addition to engaging talks, the sacraments and Christian fellowship.

The Catholic artists reflect the conferences’ mission. “They are all good musicians with good skills, but more than that, they all have a heart for reaching young people with the Gospel, because that’s what we’re doing,” said John Beaulieu, director of youth and young adult outreach at Franciscan.

At, conference attendees and the general public can download free songs by this year’s musical lineup, including Jackie Francois, Josh Blakesley, Pease, Maher, Padgett, Forrest and Father Stan Fortuna.

In Forrest’s case, Franciscan isn’t the only thing on his schedule. His Movin’ With the Spirit ministry will hold its annual summer camp June 26-28 at Holy Apostles College in Cromwell, Conn. Music will help re-energize the teens’ faith.

“It’s hard for people to put up a wall against music,” Forrest said. “Music is an opportunity to get them to hear the word of God; it makes it more meaningful to them. Songs bring it into their hearts.”

Higher Ground Music Festival, to be held Aug. 14-15 in Winsted, Minn., is sponsored by the town’s Holy Trinity Parish and School. It started in 2005 as a fundraiser and has turned into a major Midwest attraction.

“Higher Ground has brought families back together, strengthened relationships, been a healing place for the downtrodden, and been a place of comfort for those seeking out Christ,” noted Terry Fasching, Higher Ground chairman. Fasching added, “The youth need to have an alternative to the negative messages in today’s mainstream media. Higher Ground provides this alternative.”

Nick Cardilino’s band hopes to play on a side stage at The Fest ’09 in Wickliffe, Ohio, on Aug. 9. It’s a free, one-day Catholic family festival.

Cardilino, a campus minister at the University of Dayton (Ohio) and co-writer of “Discover the Way,” the theme song of the 2007 National Catholic Youth Conference, will also be leading the music at LIFE Week, a retreat experience in California, Ohio and Texas this July for high school students sponsored by the Marianists.

Other summer events include the Ultimate4JC Fest at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa., on July 18, which will feature, among others, Ceili Rain; that group will also play at Kingdom Bound in Williamsville, N.Y., Aug. 3. And on Aug. 15, Six Flags Kentucky Kingdom in Louisville, Ky., will host Catholic Youth Celebration.

For a variety of summer events, searchable by zip code, visit, the website of Grape Vine online magazine.

“Young people love to express their faith in song,” Cardilino said. “And finding peers who share this enthusiasm and desire to sing God’s praises is extremely energizing.”

Amy Smith is the

Register’s copy editor.