Last July, the Northern Wisconsin State Fairgrounds hosted the first ever One Fest, a Christian music festival dedicated to Christian unity. Cf. Ephesians 4:1-6.
The budding festival came across my radar as a fairgrounds Board member. I was hoping our venue would host some Christian musicians and that’s when Heather and her dream entered the picture. Fortunately, she liked our venue, the fairgrounds Board was in support, and we forged ahead.
SPSE teamed up with Holy Ghost Parish to promote a Catholic presence at the event. Holy Ghost has a food stand on the grounds and took the leap of faith to open its stand for the event. We arranged for a SPSE prayer station to be open next to the food stand. The Deanery parishes promoted the event and the childcare director for McDonell Area Catholic Schools co-chaired the youth activities. Both Fr. Kizewski from Holy Ghost and Fr. Burish from Notre Dame, along with their seminarian interns, attended the event to help with our evangelization efforts. Several SPSE team members and my family members contributed their efforts and enthusiasm, as well.
As the event drew nearer, I began to waver as to whether it was a good idea for SPSE to participate. “Catholics don’t even like Christian pop music,” I thought, “And Protestant or non-denominational Christians don’t like Catholics. What am I trying to prove?” Praise God, Our Lady set me straight with the trump card: “If you are not there, who will be my advocate?” The answer, of course, would be no one. We couldn’t have that. In the end, Our Blessed Mother “made me do it” and I am so glad she did. (Now you see that even your “fearless” leader can have unreasonable doubts at times.)
We had a fairly steady stream of folks stop by our prayer station throughout the day. We prayed with several of them and handed out dozens of rosaries, medals, prayer cards, and stickers. The Holy Ghost food stand even had a long line and sold out of food! One of my favorite moments of the day was when a woman agreed that I could pray over her about a number of problems in her personal life involving health and family relationships. I was inspired to pray for the intercession of Mary, Undoer of Knots. After the prayer, she said she had never heard of such a thing. She was not Catholic, but she gladly accepted a Miraculous Medal, prayer card, and pamphlet about Catholic devotion to Mary.
We closed down the stand in the early evening and we were able to stay and enjoy some of the music, including Mandisa and Tenth Avenue North.
Thank you to all of the pastors, team members, and supporters who made our participation in the event a success! Thank you to Heather Flashinski, the event organizer and now a friend. A special thank you to Our Blessed Mother without whom I may have chickened out! She always has my back (and yours). The kicker? The Catholic Lectionary New Testament reading for the Sunday of fest weekend was Ephesians 4:1-6, the verse that inspired the event in the first place:
“I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one spirit just as you were called to one hope when you were called one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”