Counting on a universal message of faithful hope to attract an area-wide audience, St. Mary's Visitation Parish and School in Elm Grove is offering three free performances by a national recording artist and speaker in March.
Steve Angrisano - a Dallas-based musician, composer, storyteller and religious educator since the 1990s - will present "Alive Again" from 6:30 to 8 p.m. March 5, 6 and 7 in St. Mary's atrium at 1200 Church St.
Message has broad appeal
St. Mary Co-director of Youth Ministry Brian Magliocco said the parish hopes to attract a diverse audience.
"The message that Steve Angrisano brings is one that can be appreciated by anyone, no matter what their faith, or even if they have little faith," Magliocco said. "It's for all ages and backgrounds. This is really an extraordinary opportunity to come to an event that has a message without being overbearing."
Magliocco and Dave Braun, co-ministry program director, started talking about hosting this program after they arrived at the parish about a year ago.
Magliocco said Angrisano's talent is his ability to weave together music, humor and personal storytelling.
"Music is something that can bring people together because it is powerful," Magliocco said. "You can listen to Steve and be inspired and not feel you are at a religious service. That's the strength of the program."
Stories based on experience
Another strength of the program is Angrisano's background, which includes being a youth minister in 1999 in Littleton, Colo., when the Columbine shootings occurred.
"I was in a position to work with students and their families because I was at a local parish," Angrisano said. "It was an extraordinary experience and opportunity to be in a position to help a lot of people who were suffering from that situation."
While Magliocco said that real-life experience hits home to many audience members, Angrisano said the example is a conversation starter within families.
"A lot of younger people don't remember Columbine or other tragedies like that," Angrisano said. "But parents can talk about it and relate how they felt and how others have had to cope."
Reaching out to others
So, why is St. Mary's doing this? Magliocco said it is simply an extension of the parish's evangelical roots.
"It's such a good message and needs to be heard," he said. "That's why we have offered this without a cost of admission."
He noted that voluntary offerings to the church will be accepted and that Angrisano will be selling CDs, but those proceeds will go directly to him.
Angrisano has been a featured performer at major conferences and events around the world, including the National Catholic Youth Conference, Steubenville Youth Conference, Los Angeles Religious Education Congress and World Youth Day. He also spoke last March at the annual Wisconsin Catholic Youth Rally.
If you go
WHAT: "Alive Again"
WHEN: 6:30 to 8 p.m. March 5, 6 and 7
WHERE: St. Mary's Visitation Parish, 1200 Church St.
CONTACT: (262) 782-4575
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