Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 8, 2008
Music with a mission restores island lives
Franciscans and Friends take their healing song and sweat labour to hurricane-damaged islands
PHOTO | VIRGINIA BATTISTE
Denis and Wendy Grady, coordinators of Franciscan and Friends Music Mission, welcomed Dominican Fr. Charles Dominique, a guitarist from Grenada.
SPECIAL TO THE WCR
CALGARY - New York is far from being in the same neighbourhood as Calgary. But when Dominican Father Charles Dominique arrived in the Big Apple from Grenada, he was already halfway to the home city of the group of volunteers who are helping his parish recover from a 2004 hurricane.
So he decided to drop in to give concerts and raise awareness of the Franciscan and Friends Music Mission.
A self-taught guitarist who loves to sing, Dominique performed in Calgary concerts at St. Cecilia's Church May 30, and at Rafter Six Ranch Chapel west of the city, and an informal session at Hold the Mayo Smokehouse restaurant, at an outside venue that the weather forced inside on May 31.
Restoration work continues in the aftermath of hurricane Ivan, which devastated Grenada, West Indies, in 2004.
After the hurricane blew through, leaving a trail of devastation throughout the island, Dominique says his bishop immediately put the Church resources to work helping the people.
Only when people had been re-housed were the resources of the diocese re-directed to repairing rectories for the priests.
The final stage of work is restoration of damaged churches, including the Immaculate Conception Cathedral in the capital of St. George's which still stands damaged and vacant.
Dominique said the Franciscan and Friends Mission which has travelled regularly to the Caribbean islands since 2005, comes not only to hold concerts, but to pitch in and help with the work needed to rebuild and restore the damage from the hurricane.
"They came out to Grenada and were involved in sanding the benches from the cathedral.
"There is an actual work component to their mission. They don't all sing, but they all work."
Dominique says those who travel with the music mission benefit from visiting the Caribbean and seeing what is happening.
"It is good to have them come to see the context that people operate in. If they don't come, they can't see what it is like for us. They can come to see what's happened firsthand, not just see pictures of the damage."
SEVEN YEARS AGO
Calgarian Denis Grady who coordinates Franciscan and Friends Music Mission with his wife Wendy, says the mission grew out of an encounter with musicians from the Caribbean at World Youth Day in Toronto in 2002.
Eventually he was invited by the dioceses of Trinidad and Barbados to bring a group of musicians there for a series of fundraising concerts and ministry.
What began as visits to those two islands expanded to include St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, and Grenada.
The mission has also expanded from music to manual labour in some dioceses. It brings together volunteers from a cross-section of Christian churches and ethnic backgrounds and draws people from across Canada and the U.S., who mostly hear about it by word of mouth.
The participants pay their own costs to travel with the music mission and undertake various tasks on behalf of the mission, said Wendy.
A JOB FOR EVERYONE
While some participants are involved in the music ministry, others help with food preparation for the team, or organize the concerts and sell CDs for the artists who join them.
Apart from the concerts in churches, they visit prisons, drug and alcohol rehab centres, orphanages, seniors' homes, schools and impoverished neighbourhoods. While most concerts were indoors, they have moved into the streets and that, Denis says, is where the real action is.
"That is where we really reach all the people of the community."
The next Franciscan and Friends Music Ministry trip to the Caribbean is scheduled for October.
Benefit concerts and activities are ongoing and there are plans to expand into new frontiers with contacts being made in South Africa, Guatemala and Sudan.
Anyone interested in joining the mission can contact the Gradys at 403-243-1049 or visit the website at www.franciscanandfriends.com.