Priests band together to celebrate Virgin Mary with music

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Father Brendan Glasgow sings at the Pearl Street Warehouse in Washington during a May 20, 2024, performance by Upon This Rock, a band of local priests. At left is Father Nicholas Morrison, and the guitarist in the background is Jamie Ascenzo. (OSV News photo/Mihoko Owada, Catholic Standard)

WASHINGTON (OSV News) — Armed with guitars, drums, bass and a microphone, two bands comprised of local priests rocked out in the name of the Virgin Mary at a live music venue on The Wharf in Washington’s waterfront neighborhood.

The concert — held on the feast day of Mary, the Mother of the Church — also included music by a band comprised of young adult Catholics from St. Peter’s Church on Capitol Hill.

The description of the May 20 event promised, “a mix of alternative, pop, and indie rock was brought to you by nine Catholic parish priests and young adults throughout the Archdiocese of Washington.”

Building connections beyond Sunday services

Abbey Schieffer, who came to support the event with friends, is a member of St. Peter’s Young Adults, a group that meets at St. Peter’s Church on Capitol Hill every Monday night. The group alternates between Bible studies, Eucharistic adoration, speaker events and social activities. Schieffer shared why having different events that unite the community is important to the faith.

“It’s things like this that allow us to congregate or meet outside of church on Sundays,” Schieffer told the Catholic Standard, Washington’s archdiocesan newspaper. “Sunday is not the only day we could get together, congregate and enjoy each other’s company.”

Parishioners and fans filled seats and lined the balcony as Father Brendan Glasgow led the crowd in praying the Hail Mary before the first band, Foundation, took the stage with a cover of Tom Petty’s “Free Falling,” followed by Train’s “Drops of Jupiter,” and Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car,” among other covers the crowd cheered and sang along to.

Foundation, the band made up of St. Peter’s on Capitol Hill parishioners, included Anebi X. Adoga Jr. on vocals, while Annie Vogel played the keyboard, Elizabeth Mount sang and played guitar, and Cromwell Enage was on drums.

“I think people don’t understand that Catholics are just everyday people. I really take pride in having a balanced life. My faith as a Catholic is the source and summit of everything I do. There’s nothing more that I love than participating as a parishioner with the Catholic faith,” Vogel said. “I love having a community to come home to.”

Foundation is typically a praise and worship band, and they changed their usual setlist for the event. They met through St. Peter’s Young Adults.

Music and ministry

Father Glasgow, who organized the event for the second year in a row, said it was important to do something “fun as a church,” as a community. He is the percussionist for Upon This Rock, the event’s headlining act. A parochial vicar at St. Elizabeth Parish in the Washington suburb of Rockville, Maryland, Father Glasgow will begin serving as the formation adviser at the Saint John Paul II Seminary in Washington in July.

Upon This Rock includes his brother, Father James Glasgow, and three other priests. Father James Glasgow, now a parochial vicar at St. Mary’s Parish in the Washington suburb of Rockville, Maryland, will begin serving in July as the Catholic chaplain at the Newman Center at George Washington University.

Upon This Rock, a band of local priests, plays during a May 20, 2024, concert at the Pearl Street Warehouse in Washington. Pictured are are Father James Glasgow on keyboard; guitarist Jamie Ascenzo; singers Father Nicholas Morrison and Father Patrick Agustin; drummer Father Brendan Glasgow; and guitarist Father Alexander Wyvill. (OSV News photo/Mihoko Owada, Catholic Standard)

“We love playing music, my brother (and) my priest friends. The way we enjoy being together is we like to play music. By putting on an event that was also a way to motivate us to make that happen,” Father Brendan Glasgow said. “Last year, we did it with the young adults at St. Peter’s on Capitol Hill. That was a great introduction. Now a lot of us have different assignments, we’ve kind of just expanded it to really just invite everybody.”

The priest added, “I think it shows maybe a different side of the priesthood in a way that hopefully kind of just expresses joy and fraternity and friendship, and then that you can use all things to glorify God. Hopefully, this music can be a little bit a part of that, glorifying God, through our voices, through the songs, but also just (to) have fun.”

Priests express joy through music

Iter, a band also known as Priests in Concert, was up next playing songs such as “Learn to Fly” by the Foo Fighters, “Alive” by Pearl Jam, “Caraluna” by Bacilos, and “Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi.

“I’m very excited, very happy to be here with the young adults of the Archdiocese of Washington, to put on a show, make them happy, make them inspired, and always dedicating this show to our Mother of God,” said band member Father Saulo Vicente, vice rector of the Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Hyattsville, Maryland, who sang and played tambourine.

Another singer in that band, Father Daniele Rebeggiani, serves as a secretary at the apostolic nunciature in Washington. Three other priests play guitar, the drums and keyboard, respectively.

Band members throughout the night showed their versatility as they swapped instruments or took on vocals for different songs.

“(We picked) ‘Caraluna’ because we wanted something Latino that would move the crowds, and it’s a super happy song, and we just wanted to give a chance for people to dance and be happy,” Father Rebeggiani said. “I think happiness has a lot to do with what we are about. Christians are fundamentally happy people.”

Audience members at the Pearl Street Warehouse in Washington enjoy a concert May 20, 2024, that included performances by two bands of local priests, Upon This Rock and Iter. The concert also included music by the band Foundation, which is comprised of young adult Catholics from St. Peter’s Church on Capitol Hill. (OSV News photo/Mihoko Owada, Catholic Standard)

On stage, keyboardist Father John Benson spoke about how he started to experience the Church when he felt very “alone.” He felt God’s love and was impacted by Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the United States in 2008. He said the band name Iter means “the way” and refers to the Neocatechumenal Way, a Catholic movement dedicated to adult and family faith formation.

The name of the band Upon This Rock, references how Jesus told St. Peter, “You are Peter, and upon this rock, I will build my church.” (Mt 16:18)

Cover songs by Upon This Rock included “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World, “The Dog Days Are Over” by Florence & the Machine, “One Love” by Bob Marley, and “Awake My Soul” by Mumford and Sons with an encore appearance of Matisyahu’s “One Day.”

OSV News

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