Diocesan News

Lourdes to host Catholic artist, fund scholarships

Concert March 12 by Audrey Assad, daughter of Syrian refugee and convert to Catholicism

NEBRASKA CITY (SNR) – Lourdes Central Catholic Schools will host Christian artist Audrey Assad in concert at the Lourdes theater Saturday, March 12, at 7 p.m.

Assad, the daughter of a Syrian refugee and a convert to Catholicism, is an author, speaker, producer, and critically-lauded songwriter and musician. Her debut album, “The House You’re Building,” was named Christian Album of 2010 on Amazon.com and the “Christian Breakthrough Album of the Year” on iTunes. She has toured with artists such as Chris Tomlin, Tenth Avenue North, Matt Maher and Jars of Clay. 

“This is really amazing that we were able to book her,” said Father Mark Cyza, principal of Lourdes and pastor of St. Benedict Parish in Nebraska City.

Father Cyza said he came across Assad’s music while listening to another Christian artist on YouTube.

“I was really impressed with the inspired beauty of her music,” he said, and shared the music with parishioners, who were also impressed. 

“Out of curiosity,” he said, “I looked to see if she had any concerts coming up in the area, but when there were not, I got to thinking, ‘why don’t we have a concert here?’ 

“We have a beautiful theater at Lourdes that I think will provide an excellent concert space,” he continued, “and I think it will help people continue with their spiritual preparations for Easter.”

He was pleased to be able to be able to arrange the concert with Assad, and then to direct any proceeds from the event for a good cause.

Tickets for the concert are $25 ($30 at the door) and the proceeds will go to the St. Benedict Guardian Angel Fund, which is used for scholarships so that low-income families may attend Lourdes.

“This school year,” Father Cyza said, “St. Benedict Parish awarded about $40,000 in scholarships. I believe it is an essential part of our mission as a parish to provide Catholic education for all of our families who would like to take advantage of our wonderful Catholic school. 

“However,” he continued, “this means we are constantly working on fundraisers. We sell tamales and snow cones after Masses and during community celebrations. We have a golf tournament. The Franciscan Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother host several “Steal of a Deal” sales. We have a ‘Fun Run.’ We also just started an eBay store where people can donate items, and we sell them online. 

“I also have donors in the community that also give generously as well,” he added. “This event will really help us reach our goal for the year.”

Tickets can be purchased by calling the rectory at 402-873-3047, by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or by visiting www.stbens.org (debit and credit cards are accepted). 

Father Cyza said listening to Assad’s inspiring and beautiful music – links are available at www.stbens.org – “is a great way to continue Lenten preparations for Easter and to support our school families.”

Assad released her latest album, “Inheritance,” Feb. 12. It is a collection of hymns and original songs that both pays homage to her childhood heritage, and to her Catholic faith and charismatic spirituality.

One original song,“Even Unto Death,” was co-written with Matt Maher after Assad heard of yet another martyrdom in the Middle East.

“I thought of the many martyrs around the world, but especially those in the Middle East,” she said, “and wondered to myself what would be running through my head if I knew my life was about to be taken because of my faith.

“And so I began to write the song that became ‘Even Unto Death,’ praying for the martyrs and hoping for even a shred of their courage.”

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