Dec. 1-7, 2005
Shake, Rattle and Pray
By Deacon Tom Picciano/ SUN contributing writer
SUN photo(s) Kathryn Deuel
Southern Tier Parishes Combine to Present Noted Musician in Concert Endicott — Teens and their parents came together on Nov. 18 at Our Lady of Good Counsel to listen to a man dressed in a bright yellow shirt printed with a smiley face and upturned tongue.
“If you think that you being here tonight is a very strange occurrence, it is. Most of us here are probably Catholic. And that just shows how strange we are. What did we do on Friday? We’re going to church,” said Jesse Manibusan. Despite his mother’s insistence that he leave her guitar alone, he picked it up and played it. He aspired to be a Beatle, but his musical talents were nurtured in his parish.
The audience of 450 was immediately captivated by Jesse’s mix of humor, song, stories and the Spirit. A series of chants rang through the church and were echoed back by the audience. “God is good,” he shouted. “All the time” the audience roared. “All the time” he said, “God is good” they responded. “Solidarity, Unity, Community,” he shouted.
During the two hour performance, he joked of his love of food and spoke seriously about his faith. “Come and follow me, come and fish with me and your lives will never be the same, “ Manibusan sang. A group of young people came on stage, unprompted. He thanked them and noted that “automatically disciples come forth.” “I don’t do this because I feel like it. I follow Jesus because I chose to follow him.” And he urged all to follow what the Spirit was telling them. “If you’ve had any experience of being moved in any way, if you’ve experienced joy, if something I’ve said has made you feel uncomfortable, hallelujah,” he said.
“Talk about it. What did you see? What did you hear? What does the church look like now? How will this change for you? How will you celebrate Mass differently? As he sang “Yes, Lord, Yes, Yes, Lord,” he invited six teens up to the stage and asked them to go back to the audience and bring an adult up with them.
Matt Francis of St. Christopher’s in Binghamton beamed as he worked in the hand motions, sang along, and encouraged his classmates to join him. “I wanted them to get into it and have fun also. Because I was having fun up there,” Francis said. “I expected it to be very boring, but it’s actually very fun.”
“When a young person tells me that he or she thought the show would be boring, and then in the midst of the show, they’re finding themselves fully immersed and participating, that just does it for me,” Manibusan reflected after the concert. His enthusiasm remained long after the church was empty. “I’m dazed and amazed, and ever reminded that the smallest portion of love and boldness will always trump the greatest amount of fear and insecurity! HELLO, they actually came up on stage and led their adults and their peers in song, prayer, and gesture!”
Manibusan hoped that everyone who heard him, teens and adults alike, came away with the same message. “That there is a renewed sense of purpose, passion and participation in the mission of the church, which is ultimately to welcome everyone and exclude no one. I’m an encourager; an undercover catechist; an itinerant witness to God’s presence in the world. I hope to answer and echo God’s call to the Church to be a disturbing force of love, justice, and peacemaking in the world. To be God’s presence in simple, small, and big ways.“
Manibusan appeared as part of a two-day workshop for young people at the invitation of the pastors of Our Lady of Good Counsel and St. Joseph’s Parishes in Endicott, and Our Lady of Sorrows in Vestal. St. Joseph’s pastor, Father Jim Serowik, said the three decided they wanted to invite the dynamic Manibusan after seeing him perform several times. “To be able to work with the youth and show them that it’s OK to be Catholic, that it’s exciting to be Catholic, and to give them a good taste of worship and praising God in the church. It’s good stuff.” Father Serowik said. “I just didn’t expect it to be so fun.” said sixth grader Patrick Jones of St. Joseph’s “I think it’s great. It’s really inspiring, especially since I’m in music ministry,” said Micaela Mead of Our Lady of Good Counsel, who bought one of Manibusan’s trademark smiley shirts.
When asked how it feels to be a Spirit-filled person who brings the Light to people in a world surrounded by darkness, Manibusan took pause. “If I do get a hint that my life and gifts have helped and brought hope and light to someone’s life, I’m humbled, excited, happy, and a little scared. I think I’m mostly in awe and stunned to silence when I see and experience love, peace, justice, and healing break through. Yep. Stunned silence.”