CLARKS GREEN – The power of music can help people encounter Christ.

That was the main message that Rev. Ricky Manalo, CSP, Ph.D., tried to explain to dozens of people during a two-day event in late August at Saint Gregory Parish.

The multi-day event, “Encountering Christ: Music & Meditation,” featured a free concert on Aug. 26 and a presentation and workshop the following day.

“I think music has always been a powerful tool to reach, to touch and to encounter God. Whenever we sing about the Body of Christ, we experience being members of the Body of Christ,” Father Manalo said.

The Paulist priest, composer, theologian and author earned the 2020 Distinguished Catholic Music Composer of the Year Award by the Association of Catholic Publishers. He also received the 2018 Pastoral Musician of the Year Award by the National Association of Pastoral Musicians.

Father Manalo credits his family for his love of music.

“My parents brought music into our family. My mother said where there is music, there will also be harmony in our family,” he added.

The Diocesan Office for Parish Life coordinated Father Manalo’s visit to the Diocese of Scranton as part of the ongoing National Eucharistic Revival, a three-year effort with the goal of awakening a desire among the faithful to encounter Jesus in the Eucharist.

As he works to compose music, Father Manalo said he often thinks about what part of the liturgy it would be used for and then a melody comes to mind.

“For me, it’s all about the context. Once I get that in my mind, my imagination just goes crazy,” he explained.

As opposed to looking at a beautiful piece of art, Father Manalo said music can go deep inside a person.

“Music allows us to experience something transcendent that actually goes all around us,” the composer stated.

There was no charge to attend either the concert or workshop led by Father Manalo. The music from his concert will be featured on the September edition of “Our Faith, Our Diocese” which will premiere on CTV: Catholic Television of the Diocese of Scranton later this month.