Evangelizing with the universal language of music

Evangelizing with the universal language of music
Father Krzysztof Wtorek with his international Gospel-Rock group sing in front of the altar of Wita Stwosza (Saint Mary’s altar) at St. Mary’s Basilica in Krakow, Poland last year. The altar is the largest Gothic altarpiece in the world, and a national treasure in Poland. Father Wtorek, parochial vicar at Holy Trinity Parish in Margate, and his group will perform at World Youth Day in July. Photo by Ekkehard Heim

Father Krzysztof Wtorek with his international Gospel-Rock group sing in front of the altar of Wita Stwosza (Saint Mary’s altar) at St. Mary’s Basilica in Krakow, Poland last year. The altar is the largest Gothic altarpiece in the world, and a national treasure in Poland. Father Wtorek, parochial vicar at Holy Trinity Parish in Margate, and his group will perform at World Youth Day in July.
Photo by Ekkehard Heim

VENTNOR — In his recording studio, a room just off Saint James Church Hall here, there is no containing Father Krzysztof Wtorek’s excitement about what he is doing.

One moment, he is sitting in front of his computer, showing off his music-editing program. Next, he is demonstrating the usefulness of Skype for music rehearsals. And then, he delicately holds his new translucent guitar that he will play at an upcoming, very special occasion.

That occasion being, playing in front of Pope Francis and hundreds of thousands of youth at World Youth Day next summer in Father Wtorek’s home country of Poland, with a talented three-country group of singers and musicians that he has assembled.

“We can use our talents to evangelize and draw others closer to God,” he says, quickly transitioning into improvisatory hand-drumming on his desk.

The international Gospel-rock group, with singers and musicians from the United States, Germany and Poland first started coming together last summer after meeting with friends in Krakow, where World Youth Day will be held next year. Two months of lyric-writing and composing melodies and chord arrangements led to the initial recordings in August, followed by a successful two-hour concert in Germany, with Father Wtorek and that country’s band representatives.

The group has four songs currently on iTunes, under the album title “God, Peace, and Music: On the Way to World Youth Day.” Their YouTube page also has live video of performances in the United States, Poland and Germany.

Father Wtorek’s love of music goes back to his days as a rock musician in Poland, before he became a Catholic priest 21 years ago. He has a degree in music composition from Princeton University, and in May 2014 he graduated from the Doctor of Pastoral Ministry Program at New York’s Fordham University, with an emphasis on evangelization and new mass media and music.

“My dissertation was on how music can be used for evangelization,” he says.

Currently, as parochial vicar at Holy Trinity Parish in Margate, he leads a rock gospel choir every Sunday night at Epiphany Church in Longport.

His diocesan choir, and the one going to World Youth Day, demonstrates his vision for dynamic evangelization, joy and enthusiasm.

At World Youth Day, “we can be living examples of unity and cooperation in the world, through the universal language of music,” he says.

For more information on Father Wtorek and his International Rock-Gospel group, visit www.vtorekband.com.

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