“Music is such a beautiful expression of Gospel joy that it just ‘clicks’ for people,” Brother Gregory Pine, O.P., told CNA, explaining that the music is a way of “re-presenting the attractiveness of the Gospel in another medium.”
“That attraction is just the beginning of a relationship, a dialogue, that pleases God,” he continued.
Br. Gregory was part of a group of Dominican sisters, brothers and priests who took to the streets of downtown Washington, D.C., on May 17 to evangelize and spread the Easter message.
While downtown, the Dominicans sang Marian and Easter hymns, along with bluegrass and spirituals. They reached out to involve those passing by, adding names of people on the street to the song, “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands,” and enlisting help from onlookers in singing “Lean on Me” and “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”
The religious brothers and sisters also greeted people walking by, offering rosaries, pamphlets on Marian devotion, and an opportunity to pray and talk more about the Catholic faith. Priests were also available to give blessings.
“People just want joy, they want to smile,” said Sr. Teresa Christi Balek, O.P., who added that “the witness of the joy of the music” is a powerful tool for spreading the Gospel.
Handing out rosaries also prompted conversations about Mary and Christ, she said. While on the streets, Sr. Teresa was joined by Br. Athanasius Murphy, O.P., in speaking to a handful of young Muslim men about Mary, discussing the respect for Christ’s mother present in Islam and Christianity, along with similarities and differences between the two faiths. They also prayed with the young men.
While it was Br. Norbert Keliher’s “first time out” evangelizing in the streets, he said the presence of music and the rosary provided a “doorway for evangelization.”
“People were interested in the singing,” he said, adding that “I didn’t have to sell anything,” but instead was able to have natural conversations about Mary and the Gospels. Br. Norbert added that most people he spoke to “also took rosaries.”
Br. Gregory commented that while the “strangeness of people congregating in strange dress, singing” garnered attention, the Dominican’s choice of song and interest in speaking to people was “received as an invitation,” especially as an invitation to join the brothers and sisters in prayer.
“People, I find, are very willing to share their needs with you,” he said.
Music and the distribution of rosaries provided an opportunity to spread the Gospel for a group of Dominicans in the heart of the nation’s capital.