During the World Youth Days in Madrid, Marc Timmermans writes a weblog of his experience.
Madrid (Spain), 18 August 2011
Noche de Alegria!
Today the Pope arrived in Madrid! Not far from here at Plaza de Cibeles he met the crowd of excited young people from all over the world. It´s one big celebration here in Madrid. The city is overcrowded but the atmosphere is peaceful and full of joy. It´s just a great experience of our worldwide Church!
We had a busy time as a band. On Monday, we had a concert in Madrid at the Parque del Ritiro. It was a concert with a changing public. We did a double programme and started with. a Vietnamese group in the public and we ended around 12pm with a Portuguese group. Parque del Ritiro is a beautiful park in the centre of Madrid, where a lot of people meet during the day and especially in the evening.
The next day was the day of the WYD Overture. We were scheduled between 7:06pm and 7:09pm at the Plaza de Cibeles. We had to be there at 1pm and then we waited, had lunch, prayed and rehearsed our song “Ave Maria”, that we would sing a capella. In the burning sun, we sang our song with Father Francis as lead singer, because he always was in this song. He, and we all, did very well. Unexpectedly, just before singing, I was asked some questions by the MCs of the day. It was an opportunity to emphasize the message of the Priestband: be a witness of God’s mercy and infinite love. "He´ll never disappoint you!"
We left as soon as possible to go to Parque de Atenas, where we had our next concert at 10 pm, the usual time.
The next day, yesterday, was the day of our highlight: the Noche de Alegria, the evening of the Emmanuel Community during WYD and the largest event after the big central events. In the Télefonica Madrid Arena, the Basketbal Stadium of Madrid, where a lot of Pop concerts take place, we were part of a larger program preparing Adoration and the time of personal meeting with the Lord. We sang 7 of our songs, starting with Rock and ending with ballads and prayer.
The Arena can receive 10.000 spectators. After letting the central field be filled with people too, the security decided at the beginning of the evening to close the doors when 15.000 people were inside. We heard later on that a lot of people waited in vain outside to come in. I heard for instance that a Dutch group was among them.
The evening was great and the concert went very well. After our other experiences onstage, we were relaxed and enjoyed the enthusiasm of the many young people coming from everywhere. WYD 2011 is over for us now, but it was worth the effort. We are happy to have been able to witness of the joy of being Christian, being a priest and being priests together! Thanks be to God!
Hasta la vista!
Madrid (Spain), 16 August 2011
LIVE on all channels!
It's final: we will be playing from 19h06 till 19h09 we will be LIVE on all channels!
Toledo (Spain), 15 August 2011
Our Lady of Lourdes prepared some surprises for us. On her feast day we'll have a concert in the very center of Madrid, Parque del Retiro, the "the Green Lung of Madrid". We'll be there from 10pm-12pm. And we'll have another concert tomorrow night in Madrid Atenas, after our performance during the Opening Celebration.
Also: Concert: 10pm - 12pm, parque de Atenas.
We'll be busy indeed! I just spoke to some Dutch and Italian participants of the Forum here in Toledo. Although the sun is really smashing today, the spirit of the groups is great!
Tonight we'll meet an unknown public and we're looking forward to it!
All of a sudden we're in a roller coaster ride again. But that's the way it is! One big adventure with the Lord. The two sick priests are healthy enough to come, only father Francis who had to go to Paray le Monial (France) for a lecture won't arrive on time. We'll improvise a bit then.
In the meantime we shouldn't forget the spiritual fruits of the Forum. After our concert, we joined the priests there in their priestly ministry. Especially the night of mercy was especially beautiful. So many young people experienced the mercy of God in confession. A moving moment for a priest. You can't be closer to God's merciful Father's heart than at these moments. It's then that we realize the most that the Priestband is worth all our efforts!
And I suppose our concert tonight won't be the last surprise! Gloria a Dios!
Hasta la proxima,
Toledo (Spain), 14 August 2011
Lourdes concert cancelled
Everything was packed. We were about to leave for Lourdes and then came the phone call. In Lourdes, the Sanctuary couldn't solve their logistic problems. The concert had to be cancelled. On the one hand, it was of course sad news. We wanted to play in this beautiful place and honour our Lady. But, on the other hand, it spares us a very tiring trip and since two of us had high fever, it was in a sense providential. We have more time to prepare ourselves for our concerts in Madrid. More news will follow.
Hasta la proxima,
Toledo (Spain), 12 August 2011
Enjoying the hospitality of the Carmel monastery
We're in Toledo, staying and rehearsing in a beautiful Carmel monastery in the centre of the old town. The kind Carmel fathers receive us with a great sense of hospitality. Toledo is also the town of Cervantes, the “father” of Don Quijote de la Mancha. Moreover it's in Toledo that saint Teresa of Avila founded her first monastery for sisters, which is located nearby ours.
The International Youth Forum started yesterday. Our concert was planned for 9 pm, but since it was the first evening and we're obviously in Spain, we only started our concert at 10:30 pm. It went well, if one considers the fact that we had only 2 days of rehearsal.
Today we worked on some details and prepared for Lourdes, with an extra Marial song, the beautiful Ave Regina Caelorum, written - of course - by Father Markus Wittal. In the meantime we heard that we might have another concert on Thursday the 18th in the centre of Madrid. We're looking forward to discovering the capital of Spain and meeting young people from all over the world. Here, in Toledo, we already met people from Asia, Latin America, North America, Africa and Europe, walking and singing joyfully through the ancient streets of this astonishing and attractive town.
We just said Mass in the little chapel of our monastery, praying for a fruitful mission through the intercession of the great founders of the Carmelite order, saint Teresa and saint Juan de la Cruz. Because that's what we want, being a witness of the Lord's mercy for all through our music.
Hasta la proxima,
Altötting (Germany), 10 August 2011
Practice in Altötting
We're on our way now. The plane is taking us from the airport of Munich Franz Josef Strauss to Madrid Barajas. Tomorrow we'll have our first concert in Toledo. We've been rehearsing since Monday, working mostly on our new songs. Fr. Markus and I were already in Altötting where we attended the Forum of the Emmanuel Community. Being a priest is wonderful, especially when you're able to hear confessions, directly experiencing the merciful love of God our Father.
On Sunday evening the others came: Fr. Martin from Munster, Germany; Fr. Kornél from Kaposvár, Hungary; Fr. Henryk from Aix-en-Provence in France. And on Monday, while his flight was cancelled, Fr. Francis arrived from Toulon in France. Another person will be joining our band during our trip. Franz Kinsky, married and father of 4 children from Altötting Germany. He will play the guitar with us. He has been involved in the Priestband project for some years now, helping us especially with the production of our newest Album, “God Has a Heart”. He's our special guest! And his skills on the guitar, his sense of rock and rhythm are very special too!
These days of rehearsal were intense. We've been working hard, but we also had our prayer times and our daily celebration of the Holy Eucharist. Yesterday we celebrated Holy Mass in the chapel of Grace here in Altötting. It was the feast day of one of the Saint Patrons of Europe, Edith Stein, a profound way to start our trip.
Our other concerts will be on the evening of the 15th in Lourdes, France, on the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary. On Thursday the 18th, we`ll sing for the arrival of the Pope in Madrid. Our final concert is on the 17th, the Noche de Alegria in Madrid Arena, from 20h! Don't miss it!
Hasta la vista!
During the World Youth Days in Sydney, Marc Timmermans wrote a weblog of his experience.
Sydney, 20 July 2008
250.000 people at our concert!
Yesterday was the day for us! We started with Mass and prayer and then our final rehearsals. Around 5 pm we were picked up by our indefatigable manager Robert Tonkli and our stage assistant Alex Burton. Alex is from a real guitar family. His father was for years in a band and he is a great guitar player himself. He was there during our last concerts with two acoustic guitars and two electric guitars (a Fender Stratocaster and a Fender Telecaster, for those who want to know). We only need one of each, so there would always be a spare one in case we might have a problem. He took care of all details, like tuning and preparing the guitars for each song. That's really a great help. Just before the evening we went all together to Alex's favourite Thai restaurant, just next to Randwick. We arrived there at the very moment that the Pope came in. So we had to wait.
Security was extreme and our innocent looks didn't help much. We missed the start of the vigil, but it was exciting to go there as a performing artist. After waiting for a while, having make up put on (because of the strong lights), we arrived at the performers waiting room, which was actually under the papal stage. We could see him when we got out, at 10 meters or so. At 9:15 pm it was our turn. The stage managers were preparing everything in just a few minutes. Amazing to see. For amateurs like we are it was just great to go through all this. A once in a lifetime experience.
The concert went very well. We were really in a good shape. We couldn't see the crowd that well, because they were in the dark and we were in the light. But we were relaxed anyway and the sound was great. It was just wonderful to be there and do what we always want to do with the band: using good music as a means to bring God to men and the men to God. That's what makes the PriestBand a real priestly band and a joyful experience for each one of us.
At the end of our "Down Under Tour", we can just be grateful of what the Lord has given us and was able to give to so many through our music. Yes, we've "rocked some souls", we heard. Music is an universal language that can touch the hearts and souls of young people. If we could have touched the hearts and souls of some of the young people in Goulburn, Canberra or Sydney with the Mercy of the Lord, then our Tour had been a great success. Thank God for that!
God bless you and g'day mate!
Sydney, 17 July 2008
Sydney's Temperature and Night Fever
Weather is so nice in Sydney! Temperature is good enough for our summer. But the best is the sun, especially when you get the chance to perceive the Pacific through the buildings. The world's largest ocean really seems to confirm its name, bringing peace to the coast city of Sydney.
Yesterday was our concert at the big WYD meeting of the Emmanuel Community, Night Fever. It was a wonderful evening all together, with beautiful witnesses, peaceful adoration and great music. We're getting better at each concert, though we still have to improve. A concert is not only playing music, but also counting the measures, remembering the different little details and even the choreography. It will be great to play at Randwick at the Vigil on Saturday before a crowd of several hundred thousand people.
We already had an interview and a filming of our rehearsal by the Australian TV and yesterday, the Dutch TV was present at Night Fever. Stijn Fens of the KRO was enthusiastic about the idea of the Priest Band and even more after hearing us. Praise God that we can share through the media the mercy of the Lord and our joy of being a brotherhood of priests.
Tonight most of will go to the Mercy Night at Darlinghurst Mission Centre. We will be there without our instruments, but with the incredible power of Gods mercy through the sacrament of reconciliation. This sacrament brings even more joy to a priest's heart than the most exciting concert could give.
God bless you and g'day mate!
Goulburn, 13 July 2008
Concert in Canberra and arrival of Fr. Rafael
Yesterday we were in Canberra, the capital of Australia. It was not cold during the day, with a nice sun that brought a nice temperature on stage. The sound was good, so we could finally hear what we were worth. It was ok. We are progressing every day. Playing together is a real experience of brotherhood and charity. During the rehearsals we have to correct each other in order to make progress and it's great to see how we can really talk frankly as brothers. The fact that we pray together is certainly the key for this spirit of charity among us. We know that we're only instruments in the hand of the Lord, not stars looking for glory.
Good news! Fr. Rafael arrived yesterday evening from Brazil. Too late for "Canberra", but in time for our final concert in Goulburn at the "Soldiers Club" tonight. His brilliant saxophone play enriches our sound a lot. During the rehearsals this morning it was just great. A new song was added as well: ?Lord, Make me an Instrument of Your Peace?. It is another masterpiece of Fr. Markus. This song is different from all the others, a bit funky with a nice close harmony at the end.
I will tell you more during the next days. We'll be in Sydney, where the weather is much better than here.
God bless you all and g'day, mate!
Goulburn, 11 July 2008
The concert was great! We still have a lot to do, musically. But the evening was wonderful, ending with a beautiful blessing by all the priests. From the stage, while singing, we could see the young people coming forward and asking for a blessing. Many were visibly touched. Not exited, but touched by God’s peaceful presence. A next step in the pilgrimage was made.
The Dutch bishop De Jong had a powerful witness of his vocation and made everybody laugh with his witty way of saying things. The message was clear though: when the Lord calls, pray, reflect, talk with your spiritual guide and dare to say “yes”. Jesus knows what the best is for you and what makes you happy. Just trust Him!
We’ll continue our work here. We’ll have a calm day today. I can give my voice a bit of rest and make some contacts with the Dutch group and prepare for our next stage: Canberra tomorrow in the afternoon, in front of 12.000 people. I’m looking forward to it!
God bless you and... g’day mate!
PS: Many greetings from Fr. Markus, Fr. Martin, Fr. Kornel and Fr. Henryk
Goulburn, 10 July 2008
Tonight, our first concert!
Welcome to Cold-burn! The locals here say that it's extremely cold. There was snow in the mountains nearby. A strong chilly wind makes the cold even worse. Great!
We're almost complete since two days and we're working hard during our rehearsals. And tonight is our first concert. We're looking forward to it. Fr. Martin is in good shape; Fr. Markus is enthusiastic, as always; Fr. Henryk is clear and steady on the bass; and Fr. Kornel is writing down the schedules and structures of each song. For myself,
I'm simply enjoying it all. It's great to be together as brothers!
It's very nice to make good music! It's just wonderful to be priests, serving these young people and sharing with them the love and mercy of Christ.
I'll let you know how it will go!
God bless you and.... G'day, mate!