Youth crowd the main stage of the Proud 2B Catholic music festival during a performance of Bernie Choiniere (center) and his band. The annual festival held at the Marist House in Framingham Aug. 12 drew about 1,700 people from around New England. (Pilot photo/Gregory L. Tracy)
FRAMINGHAM — Teens crowded the stage, shouting along with lyrics and waving their arms to music blasting from giant speakers. The scene had all the elements of a rock concert with a Catholic twist.
About 1,700 Catholics attended the 6th annual Proud 2B Catholic Music Festival entitled “Called 2B Disciples,” held at the Marist House in Framingham Aug. 12.
Each year the concert hosts big name Catholic musicians and features Mass, adoration and confession. Catholics from all over New England come to the daylong event, held from 1-9 p.m., to listen to the music, listen to presentations, receive sacraments, pray the rosary, play games or toss a football.
On the cool, sunny Saturday, three 14-year-old girls from Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Parish in Hampton, N.H., kicked off their flip-flops to lob a beach ball back and forth. They were attending the concert for the first time with their parish’s confirmation program. They said they enjoyed going to adoration and confession as well as hanging around, listening to good music.
Julia Ghigliotti said the concert was both “fun” and “cool.”
“I would do it again,” said Arielle Bean. “It exceeded my expectations.”
“Totally,” added Britt Tavano.
Connor Bradbury, 17, from Holy Ghost Parish in Attleborough, agreed, saying that the concert builds up his faith.
“I recommend the concert to anyone who wants a boost in their faith life or just a great day,” he said.
Connor said he attended last year and plans to come again next year. This year he enjoyed the performances of musicians Righteous B and Bernie Choiniere as well as participating in adoration.
Other Catholic musicians included Father Stan Fortuna, Sarah Bauer, Bob Rice, Sean Forrest, Zealous, Paul Savageau, Ryan Meyers, Cross Pollen with speaker Chris Faddis, the John Flynn Band, Aaron Fouhey, Susan Bailey, ROCK Music Ministry, Martin Doman and John Polce.
American Idol semifinalist Ayla Brown also performed. Though not Catholic, Brown spoke of her faith in God during her performance. Ayla, a 17-year-old from Wrentham, plans to attend Boston College in the fall on a full basketball scholarship.
All the events ended before the vigil Mass began at 6:30 p.m. with music by St. Angela’s Choir of Mattapan.
The main celebrant was Bishop Richard Malone of the Diocese of Portland, Maine, who spoke during his homily about the need for all followers of Christ to be spiritually refreshed. Like Elijah in the first reading from the First Book of Kings, it is normal for all to become worn-out or frightened.
“It’s part of being human to sometimes want to run away,” he said.
But the Lord sent an angel to Elijah and gave him something to eat so that he was restored, he added.
“The Lord knows we need to be re-energized,” he said. “He is the living bread of life, the Eucharist.”
Every Christian’s life is a pilgrimage, a journey with a holy purpose, and Jesus feeds us so that we will have strength on our journey. The Lord also calls Catholics to evangelize, bringing the joy of the Gospel and challenge of Jesus Christ to others, he said.
“One of the things that troubles me terribly, and I know it troubles you, is that in this part of the country, New England, the great majority of our Catholic sisters and brothers do not participate actively in the life of the Church,” Bishop Malone said. “There is nothing more important in our lives than to live in such a way as to invite people like that to come back to the Lord’s table.”
All Catholics need to seek the spiritual nourishment that can only be found in the Eucharist, he added.
“Often times I have to pull over when I’m driving up through Maine and pull out my map. I say, ‘Where am I now? I don’t think I’m going in the right direction.’ That’s what our Catholic life does for us in so many ways. That’s what Sunday Mass does for us among other things,” he said. “We want our lives to be on a heavenly trajectory.”
Father Stan Fortuna, CFR, one of the concert’s biggest draws, performed following the Mass. The Franciscan priest rapped “the breakdown of families, the devil’s prime attack” in a song where he asked God to help families follow the example of the Holy Family.
The day ended with another half-hour of adoration with music by Martin Doman.
In an effort to expand the concert, several new features were added this year, said Peter Campbell, the founder of Campbell Concerts, the organization that runs the event. The main stage was expanded, and two new areas were added to the event: one for first aid and the other for women who were pregnant, breastfeeding or seeking an air-conditioned area to change their infant’s diaper.
A stage was also added for presentations that were held throughout the day. These informational talks included “Theology of the Body” by Steve and Kari Colella from the Youth Ministry and Family Life Offices, “Saints of Yesterday inspire Teens of Today” by Eddie Cotter of the Dead Theologians Society, “How to Build a Vocation Culture in your Youth Ministry Program” by Father Daniel Hennessey and Father Michael Harrington of the Vocation Office, “Youth Ministry for Dummies” by ventriloquist Al Getler, “Exercising our Faith on the Public Square” by former ambassador to the Vatican Raymond Flynn.
These changes meant that the cost of the event went up, and Campbell said the shortfall this year is $16,000.
The increased expenses are also due to the fact that there were more artists involved this year, he said.
Campbell added that he plans to continue organizing the concert, which provides a fun day for Catholic families and youth groups. Many people come every year, he said.
“The reason we keep doing it is because people say they like it and want it,” he said.
For more information about the Proud 2B Catholic Music Festival, visit www.proud2bcatholic.com.