Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 27, 1999
God's word spreads through music
Mark Mallett's music ministry finds a new home in B.C.
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
A year ago, Mark Mallett, a former Edmonton TV reporter and a devout Catholic musician, was unemployed and ready to hang up his guitar for good.
Then, just as his employment insurance was about to run out, Bishop Eugene Cooney of Nelson, B.C., asked Mallet to take his music ministry to Kelowna. He did and that's changed his life. For the past three months, Mallett has been evangelizing the area through music with his Embracing Hope Ministries.
Now Mallett, 31, is breaking new ground in contemporary Christian music with the release this month of his debut album, Deliver Me From Me.
Eight months in the making, the album contains 13 songs dealing with the familiar themes of sin, mercy and love. Like prayers, the songs are filled with praise to Jesus and with supplications for his divine mercy and guidance.
A blend of country, bluegrass, even pop, Mallett's music is mellow and lends itself to prayer and meditation, which is one of his goals.
"My objective is to make songs and melodies that sound like the music we listen to everyday on the radio but with words and music that inspire them and help them to pray," he said recently from his Kelowna home.
"Most of us Catholics are used to hearing hymnal music or remakes of hymnal music. I've always wanted to hear my Catholic spirituality expressed in the contemporary sounds of the day, in the words of the day," he said.
"I think it's time to bring new music into the liturgy and worship."
Mallett's passion has always been for music. Born and raised in Lloydminster, he began playing guitar at age nine and wrote his first song within a month.
But as he moved to Edmonton in 1986 to go to university, he realized his passion for music was not shared by the Church to the same degree.
Years later, he and his wife Lea, feeling alienated as youth in the Church, considered joining a more lively denomination. However, God spoke strongly in Mallett's head asking him to stay and "be a light to your brothers."
Shortly after that, he received more strong advice, "Music is the doorway to evangelize."
Thus, began a burning hunger in Mallett for God, and for truth, which has led to a passionate love for the Church.
In the spring of 1993, in response to his inner call to "be a light" and to evangelize with music, Mallett formed a band in Edmonton consisting mainly of family and friends. One Voice Music Ministries was born.
"I couldn't write a praise and worship song for the life of me (at the time)," recalls Mallett. Soon after, the Lord began to pour out song after song. He has written over 70 songs and two sets of Mass parts since that day.
One Voice soon began doing music for youth Masses in Edmonton and events such as the Life in the Spirit Seminars, family conferences, and Canada's first Youth 2000. Eventually, the group began a monthly event dubbed An Encounter with Jesus, a powerful evening of music, drama, testimony and teaching.
Mallett worked in Edmonton as a reporter for CFRN-TV's business show The Risktakers and in 1998 won an award for the best Canadian documentary for What In The World Is Going On? a documentary he wrote, produced and hosted.
He is also a freelance writer. His work has appeared in the WCR, Reader's Digest and Alberta Report. Last spring he completed his first book, the Catholic Teen Leadership Survival Guide.
In the summer of 1998, Mallett suddenly found himself jobless when headquarters in Toronto cut back. He decided to leave ministry to focus on his career. "I remember the day I put my guitar in the case 'for good,'" recalls Mallett.
"I said to God, 'I won't ever pick it up again for ministry unless you want me to.'" Door after door closed in television over the following year.
It was a dark and painful time for Mallett, his wife and four small children. But in the midst of it all, a new and exciting vision for ministry began to burn afresh in his heart. "Every time I picked up my guitar, a new song would come out. It was as if God was saying, 'I ain't through with you yet.'"
Mallett put his thoughts in detail down on paper, and in the spring of 1999 - the very week his employment insurance ran out - he received an invitation from Bishop Cooney to bring his vision and music to the Nelson Diocese.
"My heart's desire was being fulfilled: the chance to share God's love and mercy through music," he said. Mallett moved to Kelowna in September and founded Embracing Hope Ministries.
The group's main task is to spread the Gospel message in parishes and high schools through music, catechesis, Eucharistic Adoration and opening the Spirit.
"We are really pioneering here," said Mallett. "Lay people and priests are all having to adjust (to this new form of evangelization), but the response has been good."
He says the response to his new CD has also been good, especially among young people. Many are using it to pray and to relax. "It's very exciting. For some reason God is using music to reach young people."