Catholic artist releases new project, to make stop in Wichita

Matt Maher was named best new artist of the year in 2003 by the United Catholic Music and Video Association.

By Heather Welch
His first recording, The End and the Beginning, has become one of the best-selling CDs in the contemporary Catholic market, and now singer and songwriter Matt Maher has delved deeper into the meaning of life and the mystery of death with his release Alive Again.
Over the past few years Maher has grown from an unknown youth music minister at St. Timothy Parish in Mesa, Ariz., into a critically-praised Catholic artist. At the 2002 World Youth Day in Toronto, Canada, Maher’s Litany of the Saints was sung at the official Papal Evening Prayer, and that same year his songs Just Like You and Love Has Come were recorded by Christian artist Kathy Troccoli for her album The Heart of Me, which received a Grammy nomination for Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album of the Year.
The next year, Maher received the Unity Award for Best New Artist of the Year from the United Catholic Music and Video Association. His anthem Your Grace is Enough has become a staple in worship communities. In 2004, he received the Unity Award for Praise & Worship Song of the Year for I Love You, Lord. Maher said that building unity among the community of believers is the main objective of his music ministry.
“I believe the Holy Spirit is doing a lot of work right now to mend divisions and to build unity in the Body of Christ,” he said. “My experience as a Catholic and a Christian has given me a heart for interacting with modern culture and for being a vehicle for unity by sharing core basic truths of the faith, which for me are rooted in the Sacraments. My desire is not for people to connect with the music, but to make a connection with God; to have an encounter with Jesus Christ the Living God.”
Maher is also credited with promoting XLT, a gathering for high school and college students that includes worship, teaching and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. In addition, he has worked with Life Teen, a parish-based youth ministry program designed to develop resources for youth ministers, and he makes frequent appearances at Franciscan University of Steubenville’s summer youth conferences. Maher said he believes that God is using young people in a unique way in our current post-Christian society.
“Everyone is called to be a missionary wherever they are, and even though the mission field has changed in that now it is everywhere, what has not changed is the need for relationship, which is communion.” Maher said that this depth of relationship and communion has become all the more hard to reach in a world where it is easy to focus on self.
Maher is currently touring the United States as part of Michael W. Smith’s A New Hallelujah world tour. Phil Stacey and Meredith Andrews are also on the Wichita ticket. Maher said that traveling with Grammy winning and multi-Platinum Smith has given him the opportunity to have great discussions about the Christian faith.
“I’m following the standard set by Michael, and I believe that we complement each other by representing two lungs of the church,” he said.
Maher’s heart remains in parish life even as his audience has grown to an international platform. He is still active in his home parish’s youth music ministry and he said many of the lyrics for Alive Again came out of his experiences with youth.
“The largest struggle for young people today I believe is their inability to pray and to connect to God in suffering,” he said. “They are losing the ability to connect with God in their own humanity. I hope that my music will take people on an intimate journey. That journey of course leads to the Eucharist because it is the most intimate connection with God.”

Want to hear Maher?
Maher will perform at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 15, at Central Community Church, Wichita. For more information about Matt Maher’s visit to Wichita, or for tickets call (316) 943-1800 or go to www.mattmahermusic.com.