Night of joy and hope
Youths gather for Mass and high-energy music
Almost 400 young people witnessed the enthusiasm of their faith during A Night of Praise and Worship July 22 at Epiphany Church in Pittsburgh's Uptown neighborhood.
The gathering featured a concert by nationally-known artists Steve Angrisano, Jackie Francois, ValLimar Jansen and Curtis Stephan.
The musicians were in town to attend the 35th annual convention of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians at the David Lawrence Convention Center.
"This music just makes me happy," said Chris Modro, 17, of Divine Mercy Parish in Beaver Falls, who is a member of a praise band. "The artists relate it to our everyday lives of faith."
The artists mixed personal reflections with their music.
Gary Roney, associate director of the Department for Youth and Young Adult Ministry, pointed out that contemporary Christian music connects the timelessness of the Gospel to the timeliness of the present.
"The vibrancy, enthusiasm and excitement of the young church sends chills down all of our backs," he said. "These young people have something going on here."
Angrisano said that while people come out to see the artists, the concerts give the musicians a chance to see the passion and faith of a church alive.
It was particularly important, he noted, to see the witness of the young people in light of the recent shootings outside of Denver.
Angrisano was asked to sing at several funeral Masses for victims of the 1999 Columbine shootings."The church is not dead," he said. "It is alive and the faith of the young people is so powerful. It gives me a great deal of hope and inspiration."
The concert was preceded by a Mass celebrated by Aux. Bishop William Waltersheid.
The bishop spoke of his recent trip to Poland and how it re-energized his faith and gave him rest. He told the young people that they can find rest in their devotion to Mary, adding, "She brings Jesus to us and she brings us to him."
Bishop Waltersheid also spoke of how the trip reinforced the fact that Jesus is present to us in the Eucharist, and we meet him through the sacrifice that takes place at the altar.
"Jesus is here tonight," he said. "Open your hearts to him. Tell him what's in your heart. He already knows, but he delights in hearing us tell him."
The bishop later noted how inspired he was by the faith witnessed by the young people.
"Many times they aren't given the credit for what they do in the church," he said. "Their great witness inspires us and tells us that the faith will continue into the future and the church will be in good hands."