Fans of contemporary Christian music and worship with a Catholic flavor will be glad to know AbbeyFest is back for the fourth straight year and bigger than ever.
It will be a virtually day-long celebration on Saturday, Sept. 16, on the grounds of Daylesford Abbey at 220 South Valley Road, Paoli.
“The purpose of AbbeyFest is a celebration of our Catholic faith through Christian contemporary music,” explained Mark Christmyer, the communications director of AbbeyFest, which began as a collaborative effort of the Norbertine-conducted Daylesford Abbey and nearby St. Norbert Parish.
“Many Catholics are new to the Christian contemporary music scene but it is growing rapidly among Catholics due to the increased number of Catholic artists who are trying to support it,” Christmyer said.
Clearly there is an audience for what AbbeyFest is doing because the first year it attracted 1,200 fans and has grown each year since, with last year’s festival attracting almost 4,000.
That number is expected to be surpassed again this year based on advance ticket sales, according to Christmyer.
One reason for the growth is the ability of AbbeyFest to attract well-known artists in the field of Christian contemporary music.
First up on the festival lineup at 11 a.m. will be Corrie Marie Dubyoski, a singer-songwriter and worship leader from the Baltimore area. Her music reflects on the human experience with the ever-present hope rooted in the person of Christ.
Best known among the artists as a performer and songwriter is Matt Maher in his third appearance at the festival. He was also in Philadelphia for World Meeting of Families in 2015 and on stage with Pope Francis at World Youth Day in 2013 in Rio de Janeiro.
Co-headlining with Maher will be Mandisa, who appeared on the “American Idol” TV program in 2006. She specializes in contemporary Christian and Gospel music.
Other artists include Mike Mangione, a Chicagoan with an eclectic blend of blues, folk and Americana. Christmyer describes him as “a cross between Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen.”
P.J. Anderson is a Christian singer-songwriter who has played and led worship services both nationally and internationally.
Kyle Sinkule’s specialty is Texas country rock and contemporary Christian music. He is best known for his single, “Promised Land” which was number one on Amazon’s singer songwriter’s chart in 2015.
A keynote speaker will be Paul Kim, who mixes music with a message of faith, hope and love.
Of course it’s not just the music, there will be vendors serving a variety of foods for different tastes.
And the festival is not aimed just for youth and young adults. Typically there are people of all ages, including families with young children up to senior citizens and a variety of programs for the children.
“One man told me he has been to many places with children including Disney World,” Christmyer said. “This was the first time with 4,000 people he didn’t have to worry about the children. It’s the Holy Spirit’s doing.”
Most important, AbbeyFest is a religious experience, complete with confession through most of the day, opportunities for eucharistic adoration, a 4 p.m. Mass that fulfills the weekend obligation and a candle-lit procession in the evening with a reprise from Matt Maher.
Think of AbbeyFest as a contemporary concert with strong Catholic religious overtones and without the pot and the other shenanigans generally associated with typical rock concerts.
There might be incense at benediction, but that doesn’t count.
For more information and tickets for AbbeyFest see the website TheAbbeyFest.com or call 267-684-5281.
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