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Made for More an experience of the riches of the Catholic faith

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Musician shares his key influences and how Theology of the Body was life-changing

His first encounter with the teachings of St John Paul II known as his Theology of the Body was “excruciating” but Mike Mangione said music and friendship was a bridge through which it captured his imagination and his heart.

Two decades later the Wisconsin singer-songwriter and guitarist is travelling to Sydney and Melbourne with his friend Dr Christopher West to tour Made for More, a two-and-a-half hour immersion into the riches of the Catholic faith and the ways in which God reveals himself through creation and how our desires are meant to draw us closer to Him.

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They met during a three-day retreat in 2001 where Christopher was a speaker and Mike was trying to impress his then-girlfriend (now wife) Stacy.

“She had a really devout faith and a beautiful Jesuit spiritual director who had heard about this new speaker, who was really making an impact with Pope John Paul’s teaching. He was all on fire about it and he convinced my girlfriend to go,” Mike told The Catholic Weekly via zoom.

“It challenged me deeply because it brought to light the truth and that you need to change fundamentally in order to follow it. But even to comprehend it was a challenge because I was music and science-minded, and theology was new to me. But after a talk, Christopher played a guitar and a song – which he never does – but just decided to do it that night.

“All these people went up afterwards to ask him questions, but I wanted to know about the song because that was the only thing I understood.”

They quickly discovered a mutual admiration of rock band U2 and from there their friendship grew.

“In hindsight, to me it was a testament to God’s understanding of our fingerprints and what each of us needs,” Mike reflected. “In order for me to have confidence in the challenge that was being proposed by this new individual I had just met, that friendship was the bridge that needed to be built.”

Christopher West to tour Sydney and Melbourne with Made for More

As he learnt more about faith and how it fitted in with his life, his songwriting shifted as well. “My songs are in the style of Americana music, kind-of a melting pot of blues, country and rock. Those styles tend to be story-driven, and kind-of lend themselves so well to the questions of ‘who am I?’ ‘Where am I going?’ So it was natural for me to swap the narratives of the songs to match more of a Catholic identity.

“Christopher and I have this mutual appreciation for each other’s work that eventually led to the idea of looking at using the transcendentals of truth, goodness, beauty, and creating an event that’s multi-sensory, using artistic elements as well as the spoken word, to reach both the head and heart through our efforts. That was the beginning of all this.”

He says his biggest musical influence apart from U2 and Bob Dylan is John Paul II’s 1999 Letter to Artists.

Mike will perform songs throughout the two Made for More events in Sydney on 20 and 21 January.

“They’re not praise and worship songs, and they’re not entertainment,” he explained.

“What I’m providing is a resource that is meant to help people reflect on what we’re trying to do with the teaching. If you try to live this it gives you the freedom to make decisions. Oftentimes, we see ourselves as having freedom to avoid things like faith and its demands.

“But what’s so impactful of the Theology of the Body is that when you hear it, it’s like an echo in your heart. It gives words to things that you already understand internally.

“And if you’re honest enough and brave enough to confront that, you can understand, yep, okay, there needs to be a change, because that’s true.”

Made for More Sydney events

Tickets cost $25 for general admission, $10 for student or concession holders.
Children 10 years and under enter for free, with adult supervision required for all those under 18 years.

Purchase tickets at www.sydneycatholic.org/TOB/

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