"The greater the work the more
important it is to establish it on
a solid foundation. Thus it will
not only be more perfect; it
will also be more lasting.”

St. Louise de Marillac

“Be diligent in serving
the poor. Love the poor,
honor them, my children,
as you would honor
Christ Himself.”

St. Louise de Marillac

 

Light in the City: An Evening of Hope, Encouragement and Worship

By S. Teresa Marie Laengle

A group at Chaminade Julienne High School in Dayton, Ohio, had a conversation in late 2019 about how the school and the larger Catholic community could help the people of Dayton recover after the challenges of that year – a racist hate rally at Courthouse Square, devastating tornadoes on Memorial Day that left many homeless, and a mass shooting in the Oregon District that claimed nine lives and injured others. Dan Meixner, president of the high school, proposed the idea of a free concert by a well-known Christian artist Matt Maher to draw the faith-based community together and feel the work of the Holy Spirit in their midst. It was also a potential means of evangelization.

Thinking that religious communities serving in Dayton might want to support this effort, in early 2020 Meixner initially contacted a few members of religious communities, including the late Sister of Charity Carol Bauer, to test the idea. He valued S. Carol’s experience in the local community. Her response and that of a few others was very supportive and the members of the leadership teams were contacted. It was the encouragement of S. Carol that convinced Meixner the idea could work and would be a gift from the Catholic community to the people of the Dayton region. So, S. Carol was credited with making this event happen.

Before the pandemic, the Sisters of the Precious Blood, the Missionaries of the Precious Blood and the Mathile Family Foundation committed to support the concert. Although it was unable to take place in 2020, all three sponsors indicated they would support the concert whenever it could occur. With the blessing of vaccines, planning for the 2021 concert season at Levitt Pavilion began in March 2021. Lisa Wagner, executive director of Levitt, was asked about scheduling, cost and sponsorship. By early May, Lisa had secured Matt Maher to perform; other event sponsors were contacted – the Sisters of Charity, the Marianists and the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur – to gauge their interest in the event. By June the sponsorship team was assembled and the planning team began meeting in July.

The planning team met every two weeks until the concert occurred. The event took place on Sept. 26, 2021 at Levitt Pavilion with more than 2,000 attending. It was among the top 10 of the 36 concerts held at Levitt Pavilion this year. The crowd was diverse in ages and all enjoyed Matt Maher’s performance; his spiritual narratives in between indicated that he understood what Dayton had gone through. Sisters of Charity Marge Kloos, Mary Alice Stein, Nancy Bramlage and Teresa Laengle were present. A light dinner on the patio for the sponsors preceded the concert. Religious communities had displays and religious items were free for the taking.

Meinxer reflected: “It was a spectacular event, very spiritually moving and better than I imagined!”

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