How would you like a rock music concert that also includes confessions, eucharistic adoration and Mass? That’s what you can get at AbbeyFest — Abbey Faith and Music Festival — which will be a day-long festival held at Daylesford Abbey in Paoli on Saturday, Sept. 24 from 11 a.m. until 9:30 p.m.
It’s Christian rock with a definite Catholic twist, and it is in its third year and growing.
“We’re building on the success of our previous years where we’ve featured Matt Maher, Brandon Heath, Sara Groves, Ike Ndola, Righteous B and others,” said Megan Schreiber, president of AbbeyFest Ministries.
This year’s lineup includes the headliner, Sidewalk Prophets, plus Stars Go Dim, the Josh Blakesley Band, Teresa Peterson and Aly Aleigha, who has been named emerging Catholic artist of the year.
Keynote speaker for the event will be Jeff Cavins, best known as a former host for the “Life on the Rock” series on EWTN.
The mission of AbbeyFest is “to promote the authentic truth and beauty of our Catholic faith through music, speakers and family events in order to raise up witnesses to Jesus,” Schreiber said.
While one thinks of rock festivals as youth events it isn’t necessarily so; the genre has been around long enough now to attract a wide range of ages in its audience.
“You see every age; my mother-in-law is 87 and she will not miss it,” Schreiber said. “The music appeals to the old and to the young.”
But the music is only part of the experience. There will be crafts, games, activities for kids and religious items and information available at various sponsors’ booths.
AbbeyFest has its roots in a concert presented three years ago featuring Christian songwriter and performer Matt Maher, who performs nationally and most recently at World Youth Day in Krakow. That concert drew 600 people, and very quickly organizers came to realize this was a wonderful way for Catholics and other Christians to get together in ecumenical outreach.
Out of this came AbbeyFest, which drew 1,200 in its first year, and 3,000 last year.
“We thought we would have a drop off, but we didn’t,” said Mark Christmyer, spokesperson for AbbeyFest. “We got people of all ages, many families with children and Christian groups. This is a movement many Catholics did not know about. Christian rock is good music.”
This year, AbbeyFest senses it has not plateaued and will continue to grow with 4,000 or more.
Several of the featured performers have national reputations and extensive touring schedules.
— Sidewalk Prophets, who earned the Gospel Music Association’s New Artist of the Year award in the 2010 Dove Awards. The most important thing in life is love, according to lead singer David Frey. “We need love and true love only comes from Christ.”
— Chris Clevelend, the lead singer of Stars Grow Dim, has a similar message in the song, “You are Loved.” He explains, “We are part of a love story. One of God’s love for his people and his love for each one of us.”
— The Josh Blakesley Band played at World Youth Day events in Denver in 1993 and Madrid in 2011, and the World Meeting of Families in Milan in 2012. The band’s calling is “to make music that moves people into prayer and action.”
— Teresa Peterson is a Philadelphia-based singer and songwriter who takes her spirituality from Mother Teresa for whom she was named. She takes her inspiration from Psalm 34, “I will bless the Lord at all times; praise shall always be in my mouth.”
— Aly Aliegha, who works at the University of Minnesota Duluth Newman Center and leads worship services, recently released her first LP, “Jealous Love.”
The program schedule, subject to change, is as follows:
10 a.m. — Doors open
11 a.m. — Festival begins: Welcoming prayer
11:15 a.m. — Teresa Peterson
12:35 p.m. — Aly Aleigha Band
2:15 — Stars Go Dim
4 p.m. — Mass
5 p.m. — FireHill Worship
5:25 p.m. — Savio Boys Choir
5:45 p.m. — The Josh Blakesley Band
6:35 p.m. — Keynote Speaker: Jeff Cavins
7:20 p.m. — Sidewalk Prophets
9:10 p.m. — Adoration procession led by the Josh Blakesley Band
9:45 p.m. — Closing prayer
For more information and to purchase tickets visit www.theabbeyfest.com