Just 30 hours or so removed from our first-ever Archdiocesan Conference, I’m still in a bit of a daze: I’m exhausted, optimistic, grateful, encouraged, and proud among many other feelings and emotions. In particular, I’ve been reflecting on the Matt Maher concert that kicked-off the Conference on Friday night, and the months of planning that went into it.
The concert was 8 months in the making, stemming from a meeting at the OYYAM. We had just been charged with the responsibility of planning and executing the “Friday night” portion of the Archdiocesan Conference and after a bit of brainstorming about potential events and ideas, our decision was unanimous: it was time to bring the Grey-Haired Canadian back for an archdiocesan event for the first time since Spirit Day 2009.
I fired a text message off to Matt in July and he was interested from the very beginning. However, he cautioned me that they had a couple of irons in the fire so-to-speak with respect to other tour dates (that have since come to fruition…including the East Coast USA tour they interrupted to get to Vancouver on Friday). After numerous emails, phone calls, text messages, negotiating, and anxious moments, we finally signed the contact in October…4 months after our initial contract and just 4 months prior to the Conference!
It was undoubtedly worth the effort, as over 1,000 people were blessed by Matt’s music and message on Friday night. There have been countless tweets and Facebook status updates proclaiming love for Matt and the band and deservedly so. It was a perfect way to start off the Conference weekend.
But I’d like to talk about another band that was present on Friday night. This band isn’t as musical or as popular and will likely never even record a song together. But they sure put on a good concert Friday night.
I’m talking about our band of volunteers.
Once the OYYAM staff along with our “Concert Organizing Committee” had the vision in place, we needed some reliable people to help us bring the vision to fruition. Thus, we recruited a team of young adults that would serve alongside us during the big day.
In the end, there were 25 of us altogether to cover all areas of the concert: production, hospitality, ticketing, doors, security, merchandise, set-up and clean-up. By time we finalized our team, we had a virtual who’s-who of Catholic leadership…I dubbed it an “all-star” team. Not only did each person prove to be reliable, they also proved to be patient…as they endured countless emails from me leading up to the concert. It’s quite remarkable to think that aside from our pre-concert orientation, we never met together and we planned everything electronically!
Ah yes, the pre-concert orientation. Once everyone had arrived, we met for a few minutes to confirm assigned roles and to pray for the success of the event. Among my barking orders:
“I trust you to make good decisions tonight.”
“Remember that amidst the inevitable craziness and excitement, you are representing yourselves, your parishes, Archbishop Michael, the Archdiocese of Vancouver, and our Church.”
“Help each other out…don’t be afraid to lean on each other.”
And my favourite mantra: “Do whatcha gotta do.”
And with that, we dispersed only to come together 4 hours later for a quick thank you and prayer of thanksgiving. During that time period, the team truly did what it had to do. What stood out to me most was the pure humility and joy that every single volunteer served with. Some jobs were busier than others (ticketing), some were more noticeable than others (front door), and some were downright lonely (guarding the green room)…haha. Some required gentle force and direction (security on doors) while others required taking direction (running the band’s lyrics). Some included capturing memories (photo and video) while others included capturing money (merchandise).
As Matt smoothly mixed “Lean on Me” into “Hold Us Together” during the concert, I beamed with pride thinking about and praying for our volunteers. The songs were most appropriate considering how the team had to indeed lean on each other and in essence hold the event together through its humble service.
I hesitate to use terms like “the best volunteer team ever” as it’s not my place to judge or “rank” them against other groups from the past. But I can say that the team was among the most humble, dedicated, qualified, faithful, reliable, and unselfish groups I’ve ever been blessed to be a part of.
Was the evening perfect? Of course not: there were a few registration issues, a couple of technical issues, and complaints that it was too loud. Even though it was a concert. :p
But the concert served as a perfect gateway to the Conference as a whole via a celebration of what it means to be in one faith, body and mission. I also believe that our volunteer team set a high standard for volunteering for the next day; a standard that I can happily attest to being reached.
We often talk at the OYYAM about how blessed the Archdiocese of Vancouver is to have so many quality people at its disposal. Us OYYAM staff members are paid (insert joke about salary here) and expected to be at events like the Conference. And I can proudly say that we usually do our job well; I’m very blessed to serve alongside quality people like Analyn, Faye and Gerard. They are the salt of the earth. And I would not hesitate to put our office staff up against any other ministry staff on the continent.
But we only go as our volunteers go. And whether it’s at an event as large as Spirit Day or coming in to help us organize our storage locker, we are always grateful to you.
So thank you Alisha, Angela, Celina, Chris E, Chris S, Clarissa, Coy, Donne, Francesca, Grace, Heather, Jason, Krissy, Marc, Mark, Mary, Megan, Michelle, Oggy, PJ, and Stephen.
We couldn’t have done it without you.