By Anne Marie Amacher
The Catholic Messenger
An evening of reflection, song, adoration, healing and prayer with Mark Forrest will be presented in several parishes in the diocese next month, beginning June 5 at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport.
Forrest is an international Irish tenor who has traveled worldwide and performed many times in the Diocese of Davenport. (See accompanying box for upcoming dates, times and sites in the diocese.)
Forrest is also a husband and father committed to reaching out to families like his who have loved ones with special needs. In a phone interview with The Catholic Messenger, Forrest said he and his wife, Muriel, organized the Faith and Family Foundation in 1999 to support and encourage individuals and families with special needs. The couple established the foundation after the death of their third child, a five-day-old boy. They have eight boys, including three with special needs. The family’s Virginia farm is home to needed services for families of children with special needs.
Through his travels, Forrest raises awareness about disabilities and offers hope and encouragement to others with challenges. Everyone has their “personal cross,” he noted. The parish programs will include eucharistic adoration, prayer and benediction. “There is one-on-one time for Jesus.” The evenings allow people to reflect on this Year of Mercy and “to bring Christ and to find healing.”
People will be able to sing along, listen to or simply meditate on the music. “If a song is familiar, join us in singing. It’s not a concert, but part of the reflection,” he said. “No matter your spiritual level, this is for you. Experience Christ during this evening; be a part of the bigger body of Christ and get in a relationship with Christ.”
Father Rich Adam, pastor of Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport, said shortly after Pope Francis inaugurated the Year of Mercy, some parishioners had traveled to Cedar Rapids and experienced Forrest’s holy hour. “They were extremely moved and inspired by the experience. Upon their return, they looked at Mark’s travel calendar and saw that he was in the area in early June.”
Fr. Adam himself had been to Forrest’s events before. “It wasn’t a hard decision to invite Mark to Sacred Heart — especially in this Year of Mercy. I know it will be a beautiful experience and I hope many come to benefit from this holy hour of prayer.”
Father Joseph Phung, pastor of St. Alphonsus Parish in Mount Pleasant, said Forrest has visited the parish several times before. The night of reflection is a bonus for the Year of Mercy, Fr. Phung added.
Father Tim Sheedy, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Solon, said he hosted Forrest back in the 1990s when Fr. Sheedy served in Fort Madison. “I know Mark. I’ve been to his home and to his event several times.” Fr. Sheedy tied in this year’s visit with his own 40th jubilee as a priest. “Mark is a very prayerful and spiritual man. I wanted to offer an evening of adoration and prayer, and this worked out well.”
Mark Forrest will offer a night of music, prayer and refection at the following parishes in the diocese:
• June 5, 7 p.m. Sacred Heart Cathedral, Davenport
• June 9, 7:30 p.m., St. Alphonsus Parish, Mount Pleasant
• June 11, 7:30 p.m., St. Wenceslaus Parish, Iowa City
• June 13, 7:30 p.m., St. Mary Parish, Solon.