Nov. 20-26, 2003
By Blessed Sacrament staff/ SUN contributing writers
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
Catholic band gives concert for youth
There was something funky going on Nov. 8 at Bishop Grimes Jr./Sr. High School. Approximately 300 youths from multiple parishes were treated to a faith-building and hand-clapping performance by the Catholic funk band Crispin. Named after St. Crispin, a martyr and patron saint of shoemakers, Crispin is one of the most well-known Catholic pop bands in the world. The six-man group, based in North Richland Hills, Texas, has been on tour for the majority of the past four years, performing in parishes, schools and youth centers. They have played over 400 concerts in five countries and have released four CD’s including their latest live CD, “Were You There?”
“They are phenomenal,” said Father Richard Prior, newly appointed pastor of Holy Family Church in Fairmount, who helped to organize the show at Bishop Grimes. He decided to invite the group to perform for diocesan youth after hearing one of their CDs given to him by seminarian Joe O’Connor. Admission to the concert at Bishop Grimes was free thanks to several parishes in the diocese that provided financial support, said Father Prior. The parishes include Our Lady of Pompei in Syracuse, St. Mary of the Assumption Church in Minoa, St. Daniel in Syracuse, Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Liverpool, St. John the Baptist Church in Rome, Immaculate Conception Church in Greene, St. Leo’s Church in Tully, St. Patrick’s Church in Otisco and St. Matthew’s Church in East Syracuse.
Earlier that day, Crispin performed at the Hillbrook Detention Center in Syracuse, said Father Prior. Lead singer Daniel DiSilva said that Crispin attempts to carry out the message of Pope John Paul II that “Music is a universal language, capable of raising deep emotions and transmitting noble sentiments, of creating a state of mind similar to the fervor of the artist.” “The mission of Crispin is to bring the message of Jesus to the ends of the earth through music that is worthy of the ears of the most selective music lovers,” said a statement on Crispin’s website.
In true Crispin spirit, the performance at Bishop Grimes spread the message of the Gospel in a very entertaining way. The enthusiasm DiSilvia and his band mates have for their faith was contagious; many youths sang and clapped along to the music. Crispin treated audience members to a selection of ballads and upbeat songs, including “Fisher of Men,” “The Silliest Girl in Lourdes” (a song about St. Bernadette) and “John.” They also played a familiar tune, “This Little Light of Mine,” that the youths found particularly enjoyable.
DiSilva describes the band’s music as a Dave Matthews, James Taylor and Paul Simon blend. This was Nick Neville’s first concert featuring Catholic music. While he wasn’t sure quite what to expect from a Catholic funk group, he was impressed. “They were great,” said Nick, a ninth grader who attended the concert with a group of students on retreat at Alverna Heights. “I liked their music.” The evening also included youth testimonials on the importance of faith from two local high school students: C.A. Mucauly and Greg Galusky. It concluded with a Mass celebrated by Father John Manno. During the Mass, a collection was taken up for the youths at the Hillbrook Detention Center. Over $200 was collected, which will be used for a Christmas fund, said Father Prior.
O’Connor traveled from the seminary in Baltimore, Md., to hear Crispin — one of his favorite bands. Crispin has a special significance to him, O’Connor explained to those gathered for the concert. “I was at a point in my life where I was trying to figure out what to do and how to serve God. I heard Crispin’s song, ‘Let Your Love Come Down.’ I prayed the song. It filled me and I had a new courage. I owe Crispin personal thanks. You helped me find my vocation,” said O’Connor, who is now a year and a half away from ordination.
O’Connor praised Crispin as a refreshing change compared to the secular music that saturates today’s pop charts. “Life is a spiritual journey. Crispin fills us up with the good nourishment, not the junk. Don’t buy the messages that many of today’s pop stars are selling. It does not take skin and negativity to get attention,” cautioned O’Connor. “Fill up with the right stuff.” For more information on Crispin, visit www.crispinmusic.org.