Choirs unite for meaningful Year of Mercy concert

September 27, 2016

HOUSTON — Many musicians say music is the universal language. The melodies and tunes surpass barriers in the same way that mercy reaches people on a level beyond our understanding. 

The Instrument of Peace Choir of St. Francis of Assisi Parish and Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church’s Choir will unite to present “A “A Concert for the Jubilee Year of Mercy.” 

This is a special two-night event at both parishes — 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22, at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, 5100 Dabney St. in Houston, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 23, at Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church, 11507 Huffmeister Rd. in Houston.

St. Francis was named as one of eight Year of Mercy pilgrimage sites for the Year of Mercy in the Archdiocese. Matt Matthews, minister of music at St. Francis for more than 22 years, said songs of mercy give us all hope for a better future here on earth and a glorious eternal life in heaven. 
“I have personally been reminded of how good and merciful God truly is over the past few recent months,” he said. “For this concert, both music directors served on the Liturgy planning committee leading up to and culminating with the recent National Pastoral Musicians 2016 Conference, which further galvanized the focus of this year’s concert. One of the selections for our upcoming concert, ‘Prayer For Compassion’ composed by Howard Maple, a local Houston musician, was chosen as the theme song and ties into the overall theme of the Year Of Mercy.”

Bridget Wenk, director of music ministries at Christ the Redeemer, said attendees can look forward to Gospel hymns, spirituals and traditional-type choral pieces along with some liturgical dance. 

“The concert is heavily African-American composers and all of the music we chose has an element of God’s mercy,” Wenk said. “We’ve grown to really love the folks at St. Francis and we’re delighted that our choirs are able to sing these different types of music together. To be able to bring this to Christ the Redeemer is a bonus.” 

Wenk and Matthews have worked together many times including various concerts and prayer services. For Year of Mercy concert, musical highlights include the aforementioned “Prayer For Compassion,” “In Remembrance” by Jeffery L. Ames, and “Sing To Your Name” by M. Roger Holland II. 

Evelyn Wagner-Wright, member of the St. Francis choir and assistant to Matthews, sums up the evening perfectly with an invitation for all to find peace and joy in this performance. 

“We have been given this free gift in the Year of Mercy,” Wagner-Wright said. “Come, listen and allow the Holy Spirit to touch your heart. Experience mercy in action through love, fellowship, caring and sharing of different styles of music, and witness multiple cultures joyfully working together.”

Both performances are free to the public. Visit or for more.

Christian meditation prayer retreat set for Oct. 7 to 9

HOUSTON — The World Community for Christian Meditation is presenting a contemplative retreat led by Father Martin Laird, OSA, at the Dominican Spirituality Center, Oct. 7 to 9.

The retreat offers participants an opportunity to set aside time to acknowledge and enjoy the presence of the Holy Spirit, according to Pat King, one of the retreat organizers.

“Meditation is one of the many types of prayer described in the catechism,” King said. “The concept of this form of prayer is that in meditation, we are not asking God for anything or praising God, both valid forms of prayer, but simply resting in the indwelling Holy Spirit.”

A contemplative retreat is usually made up of a balance between teaching and meditation. The retreats can be totally silent or not at all, with the exception of the prayer time, depending on the purpose of the retreat. This retreat will not be silent; there will be opportunities for questions, discussion and to meet and share with other attendees.

Father Laird’s talk will focus on the basics of meditation and the rich tradition of contemplative prayer within the Christian faith. 

“What is unique about this retreat is the time spent in silent prayer with the other attendees of the retreat,” King said. “Many of us feel the need to slow down, to create a balance in our lives between the frantic pace most of us live and the experience of peace that Jesus has promised us. Meditation, or the ‘prayer of the heart,’ as it was called in the early Church, can provide this balance when practiced on a regular basis. It is always a wonderful experience to sit in silent prayer with a group, either large or small.”

King said this retreat will introduce attendees to the rich Christian background of this form of prayer by one the foremost authorities in the Church today. Father Laird is an Augustinian priest and an associate professor in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at Villanova University and has studied patristics in Rome, London and Oxford.

King hopes participants will take away from the retreat “an understanding of the simplicity of the practice, an exposure to the rich Christian tradition of contemplative prayer, and the knowledge that there are Christian meditation groups that meet weekly in churches throughout Houston” and the world.

For more information, contact Pat King at 713-444-6014 or 

St. Cecilia Choir hosts a reunion concert for anniversary

HOUSTON — As part of the ongoing 60th Anniversary celebration of St. Cecilia Catholic Church, the St. Cecilia Choir will be presenting a gala reunion concert and reception on Saturday, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m.

The choir will be made up of current and former members of the St. Cecilia Choir from the past 20-plus years, accompanied by an 18-piece orchestra. The repertoire will include some of the most loved anthems of the choir through the years, along with a few new selections prepared especially for this event. 

St. Cecilia Catholic Church is located at 11720 Joan of Arc. For more information, visit