Steve Angrisano

Steve Angrisano

October 20, 2014
CHRIS MILLER
WESTERN CATHOLIC REPORTER

Teachers and principals are often privy to more information about their students than are the children's parents, a leading Catholic musician told the staff of Evergreen Catholic Schools.

Teachers and principals often forget the impact that they have on young people, Steve Angrisano told the school district's faith development day Oct. 10.

For those reasons, he said, "Just because you're not teaching religion doesn't mean you're not called to share your faith."

Angrisano recalled his Grade 7 teacher who asked him why he failed a history test. After some coaxing, he revealed that his parents made him move to a new town where he didn't know anyone and to a new school where he had no friends. The test was not a priority.

The teacher helped him. The teacher ripped up the test and allowed him to write it again. More importantly, he also introduced him to clubs at the school where he made new friends.

"It doesn't matter if you're teaching science, math or religion, it's the same – we are faith-sharers," said Angrisano, emphasizing that one shows Christ to others by how he or she lives.

Between three keynote talks, Angrisano – married with three children in Dallas, Texas – sang and played songs on his guitar. For 24 years he has been leading youth rallies, conferences, retreats and assemblies. He has been featured at seven World Youth Days.

Angrisano described his experiences ministering to Columbine High School students in Littleton, Colo., where two boys with guns killed a teacher and 12 students, wounded dozens of other teens, and then killed themselves in 1999.

Four of the students killed were parishioners at the same church as Angrisano, and he performed the music at three of their funerals.

"Our archbishop is a pretty stoic guy. He stepped up at the funeral to try and do his homily, and he couldn't do it. He just put his head down and cried. He lifted his head, and said, 'I promise you there are no classes in the seminary that tell you what to say on a day like today,'" he said.

WORST DAY EVER

"People often use the phrase, 'worst day ever.' That's the day their carburetor goes kaput and it costs them $350. That's a bummer, but worst day ever? Not a chance. You didn't have to bury any students today," said Angrisano.

Every day is filled with little paschal mysteries, he said. "You lose your job, and you're unemployed and scared to death. Then you land a new job and it turns out to be way cooler than anything you could ever imagine.

"That's the passion, death and resurrection in your own life," he said.

God gives us burdens and difficulties so we learn important life lessons. There is no life without loss, he said. Suffering is a tool to get our attention and accomplish God's purposes in our lives in a way that would never occur without the trial or irritation.

OUT OF THE BOAT

Angrisano reflected on the Gospel story when Peter sees Jesus walking on the water. Peter steps out of the boat and gives it a try too. The first few steps are great, but the wind and waves are rough, and he's far from the security of the boat. Fear gets the best of Peter, and he begins to sink.

Many people see Peter's attempt as a failure, Angrisano said. He allowed his fear to paralyze him, and he sank because he stopped walking. What's worse and what often goes unsaid is the failure of the 11 other disciples who stayed in the boat. They didn't even try.

"Peter put his trust in Jesus that none of the others had because they never even got out of the boat. The worst failure is not sinking in the waves. The worst failure is staying in the boat," he said.

"There are many good reasons to get out of the boat. The main one is that's where Jesus is."

Angrisano said this is what makes Pope Francis so captivating to the world is that he's taking chances and stepping out of the boat. He encouraged teachers to do the same.