WAHOO (SNR) – Bishop Neumann High School in Wahoo hosted Catholic recording artist Matt Maher Aug. 11, with a sold-out crowd of 1,400 people.
The event was organized by a team of volunteers led by Gery Kenney, campus ministry director for Saunders Catholic Schools.
Many students, alumni, parents, religious, and young people attended the concert, from around the Diocese of Lincoln, and from other states. Several vans and buses transported visitors to the event, to share in the celebration of Christian music. Bishop James Conley celebrated Eucharistic Adoration during the concert, with more than 1,400 people sharing in the celebration of music and Christ’s loving presence.
Matt Maher shared his personal story with the crowd. As a young adult in Canada, his parents divorced and his mother, an American citizen, returned to the United States. Matt made the move to Arizona with her and, he said, found himself “in a whole new world.” Going to church with a cousin, he encountered a youth group for the first time and a Jesus that he ‘had never met,’ which helped him to dedicate himself to his faith.
After college at Arizona State University, he moved to Mesa, Ariz., accepted a full-time position at the St. Timothy Catholic Community and started writing songs for his church. He released three independent albums and in 2005, signed a publishing deal with EMI publishing. Two years later, Essential Records signed him to a recording contract and his major label release hit stores in 2008.
Maher has been well-known to Catholics for years. He sang the Litany of the Saints for Pope John Paul II and 700,000 youth at World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto; he led worship for crowds of thousands at the Rally for Youth in Yonkers, N.Y. during Pope Benedict XVI’s 2008 visit; and he performed for Pope Francis during World Youth Day 2013 in Brazil, and at World Youth Day in 2016 in Kraków, when he was introduced by Bishop Robert Barron and sang with Audrey Assad.
During the Aug. 11 concert, Maher was presented with a Bishop Neumann Cavalier shirt and baseball cap by student Joseph Benes, who was the host for the evening. Joseph’s parents Luke and Alice helped organize the event, and were instrumental in bringing Maher to Bishop Neumann.
“I thought it was amazing to see the gym packed with people who were there for the same purpose: to praise God, said senior John Celesky. “Especially being able to carry the cross for the Eucharistic Procession. I got to see the emotion in the gym firsthand.
“I think this is exactly what we need to keep the Church going,” he continued. “We need people getting excited to love and worship God.”
Bishop Neumann is a central Catholic high school in Wahoo, and serves students and families from parishes in and around Saunders County including St. Mary in Cedar Bluffs, St. Joseph in Colon, St. Mary in Davey, St. James in Mead, Ss. Cyril and Methodius in Plasi, St. John in Prague, St. Vitus in Touhy, Ss. Mary and Joseph in Valparaiso, St. Wenceslaus in Wahoo and St. John Nepomucene in Weston.
The school, opened in 1964, currently serves more than 290 students in grades 7-12.
Related slideshow: Maher concert at Neumann 2017