Faith, hope, Love -- AaronThompson invites people from the crowd to sing with him in St. Mary Parish Center. Thompson was one of several performers, including Sacred Road and Costa Crew, who performed at Array of Hope Nov. 9.
Catholic Rock -- Sacred Road plays praise and worship songs in St. Mary Church, Barnegat during Array of Hope, an outreach of Te Deum Ministries. The rising contemporary Catholic band is touring New Jersey with other members of the Array of Hope team. Jeff Bruno photos
Nothing quite like Array of Hope has come to St. Mary Parish, Barnegat, before. The ministry is quite different from most programs that parishes call upon to get their youth excited about Catholicism. The multimedia event presents the message of faith, hope and love with everything from comedians to Instagram to up-beat, inspiring music.
Array of Hope, a ministry of Te Deum Ministries, an evangelization organization in Paramus, was created five years ago by Greg Freeborg and Mario Costabile to address the degradation of values and the lack of spirituality that exists in today’s culture by bringing Christ’s message of faith, hope and love to as many people as possible.
Array of Hope came to St. Mary Parish Nov. 9 and offered its multigenerational audience a genuine Catholic alternative to the secular culture that is sometimes hard to escape.
Several musical artists performed, such as Sacred Road, the Costa Crew, Aaron Thompson and Costabile, while other members of the Array of Hope ministry helped with the logistics and sold CDs and books.
“It is very difficult to find a Catholic Christian band with such a wonderful message,” said Cindy Craft, parish youth minister. “So when we heard of Array of Hope, I was very excited to bring them here.” Craft worked with Anthony Saranczak, leader of St. Mary young adult group, in bringing production to the parish.
Although the audience of a few hundred spanned at least three generations, the ministry primarily reaches out to youth.
“They’re here to hear the Good News of Christ and hopefully go out into the world and spread that news,” said Lori Kundrat, Confirmation catechist.
“It’s a privilege that we get to see a band that talks about all the stuff we learned in (religious education),” said Tyler Ciaccio, 14, a student in Kundrat’s class. “Religion is such a big part of my life,” said Katie Maher, 13, also in Kundrat’s class, as they waited for the band Sacred Road to start its concert. “To know that he’s there is just good for me.”
As the crowd gathered in St. Mary Parish Center, the Catholic praise and worship band Sacred Road sang many of their songs while the lyrics appeared on projectors on each side of the stage.
As they played, dozens of youths got up from their seats and came to the front of the auditorium to get closer to the music. Sacred Road also offered a message on the sanctity of life, while showing a video of a baby developing in the womb.
“Today human life is treated like a commodity,” said David Olson, lead singer. “We believe that’s because of a lack of information and a lack of truth.”
Following Sacred Road was the Costa Crew, a family band that sang about the importance of family. They even invited a youth from the crowd onto the stage to have a freestyle, or improvised rapping, performance with them about how much he loved his family. The band shared how family is under attack in society today, and explained that it’s important to embrace family because it is a gift from God.
Aaron Thompson, a musician and dynamic evangelist, was next to take the stage. In his performance, he really drove home the ministry’s message with his music and captivating engagement of the audience.
“Faith, hope and love have nothing to do with us,” he told everyone after singing “Lean on Me” with the crowd. “It’s part of the grace God gives to us and your family.”
Array of Hope performed in Our Lady of Sorrow – St. Anthony Parish, Hamilton, last year and is touring New Jersey this year. With the help of Carmel Communications the ministry plans to go national next year, said Tom Pagano of the Array of Hope team.
Monsignor Ken Tuzeney, pastor, observed that the event brought more life to the parish that evening.
“A lot of people don’t realize that ...
the message (of the Church) is dynamic, alive and powerful and certainly appropriate for youth,” he said. “I think a venue like this just helps to communicate that.”
According to the Dynamic Catholic Institute, 85 percent of Catholics who participate in a catechetical program leave the Church by the age of 30, said Jack Beers, member of the Array of Hope team.
“We think it’s because they’re under the impression that the Church is dead,” he said. “We want to boldly proclaim that the Church is alive, that the faith is alive, and that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Array of Hope does this through a multimedia performance that conveys that God loves you, he wants you, he wants you to be joyful ... he wants you to live a vibrant life, and the best way to do that is through the teachings of the Catholic Church.”
In the last performance of the evening, Costabile talked about the importance of prayer.
“We’ve all been praying for you for weeks that the Lord touches your heart,” he told the crowd.
At the end of the event, Jill Volponi, 13, said she learned a lot about God through the performances.
“It helped me understand how the bad things in life can be better if you just listen to God,” she said, “and he’s always there for you when no one else is. Whenever I’m alone I know I can talk to him.”