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Music fires up the spirit

Spiritual and musical: MusicFire members (from left) Lawrie Knott (guitar/vocals), Paul Castelli (guitar/vocals), Anna Shaw (guitar/vocals), Stephanie Unger (keys/vocals), Jo-Anne Boyle (vocals), Mark Beiers (bass) and Gavin Agnew (guitar /vocals). Absent are Keith Beiers (percussion), Nathan Kneen (vocals), Peter Olley (keys/vocals), Bettrys Lowe (keys) and Barbara Hutton (flute).

Spiritual and musical: MusicFire members (from left) Lawrie Knott (guitar/vocals), Paul Castelli (guitar/vocals), Anna Shaw (guitar/vocals), Stephanie Unger (keys/vocals), Jo-Anne Boyle (vocals), Mark Beiers (bass) and Gavin Agnew (guitar /vocals). Absent are Keith Beiers (percussion), Nathan Kneen (vocals), Peter Olley (keys/vocals), Bettrys Lowe (keys) and Barbara Hutton (flute).

By Karl Brien

WITH a new album just released and the selection of one of its earlier songs as the theme tune for this year’s Catholic Education Week celebrations, a group of Brisbane Catholic Education musicians is bringing spiritual music to schools, parishes and beyond.

MusicFire is a dedicated group of musicians within BCE who share the Jesus message with others through the gift of song and music.

This year the group will feature at the official launch of Catholic Education Week and will perform at the three-day festivities in the grounds of St Stephen’s Cathedral.

Head, Heart and Hands, from its first album Alive in the Spirit, has been chosen as the theme song for the week of celebrations across Queensland.

MusicFire guitarist/vocalist Gavin Agnew described the song as “a prayer for the grace to be more compassionate to those in need”.

The group’s latest CD, Led by the Spirit, contains 13 songs suitable for a variety of audiences and a variety of uses and is proving popular with schools and parishes.

It reflects sound theology for use in prayer and worship.

The songs were shaped and produced in a wonderfully collaborative spirit of creative energy, with group members sharing their collective wisdom in the writing and editing.

Group member Anna Shaw said music was a significant key to connecting with children, young people and adults.

“Music has the power to engage, comfort, ignite and gather all who listen,” Anna said.

“That is what drives us as a group.

“Our mission is to help others connect and deepen their relationship with God through music.”

Formed in 2007, MusicFire attracted staff members involved with BCE’s Catching Fire program who had a passion for music and spirituality.

The group originally comprised of classroom teachers, assistant principals for religious education, assistant principals for administration, principals and education officers who had a passion for music and who were interested in helping schools, parishes and diocesan communities celebrate religious events.

However, it changed over time and a core group of musicians, singers and songwriters is now creating, performing and providing support to schools and BCE whenever possible.

Group members said they found their ministry to be a great blessing in their personal lives as well as a source of spiritual nourishment.

Gavin said music had always played a special role in his spirituality.

“Playing guitar and singing draws me closer to God and I can relate to the saying of St Augustine ‘He who sings prays twice’,” he said.

“I love to share my gifts and I hope that they can help others draw closer to God.”

Guitarist/vocalist Lawrie Knott said it was a great honour to be able to do something you love in a group of very capable people and bring joy to so many others.

Vocalist Steph Unger, who also plays keyboard, said she would never cease to be grateful for each opportunity to help write songs, “to use my love of music to make an important celebration that little bit more special and to inspire teachers to use music in creative and engaging ways”.

Bassist Mark Beiers said he had found the connecting with other teachers and students throughout Brisbane archdiocese to be energising and rewarding.

Anna said the group provided opportunities and experiences for classroom teachers and students, school music teachers, students participating in music ministry and people involved in parish music ministry.

She said some of the opportunities included performing music for major liturgical events or concerts, facilitating workshops with students or young people and providing staff or adult spiritual formation experiences.

The group has also been involved in the development and recording of school songs or songs for special events like a conference.

Future directions for MusicFire included the writing of songs to support the teaching about, and praying with, Scripture texts in the classroom.

Principal education officer for professional learning, formation and leadership Dr Jill Gowdie said MusicFire was alive and passionate about its music ministry and members generously shared their gifts with others.

“It is fantastic to see new spiritual music coming from a group of such vibrant educators,” she said.

“I hope people can hear the passion and energy and joy with which their songs have come into being.”

For further information about MusicFire or to have it assist in music ministry or spiritual formation of children, young people or adults email Anna Shaw at ashaw@bne.catholic.edu.au or call (07) 5495 2266.

To order a copy of Alive in the Spirit and/or Led by the Spirit, go to the BCE website and through the ìMission and Religious Educationî tab, link to the ìCatching Fireî website.

Written by: Staff writers
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