What is the main focus of the program?
Journey of Mercy is a prayer experience that focuses on different aspects of God's mercy. Each song and reflection is like a window to God. With each open window we reflect on a particular story or image of God's merciful presence which gives us a glimpse of God's love. We are all called, each in his or her own way, to be "transparencies" of God's love.
What should people expect when they come?
Those who attend will experience beautiful music, readings, reflection, and prayers of God's Mercy. There will be time for listening and reflection but also time for everyone to worship together through Psalms and hymns. Everyone will also be invited to join in as we pray a decade of the "The Chaplet of Divine Mercy" in song. I hope that everyone who comes will leave with a greater understanding of what mercy is and what it means for us as Christians. I hope people will see that the call to mercy is more than a personal and individual response. It is also a call to all nations and societies of people. For God sent his Son to save the world from our individual and collective sins.
How do you want people to experience the program?
We want everyone to enter more fully and intentionally into the breadth of God's infinite Mercy. I hope those who attend "Journey of Mercy" will come with open hearts and leave with a broader understanding of what God's mercy means in their mind but also their heart.
How does it connect to the Year of Mercy?”
"Journey of Mercy" was created to celebrate the many blessings our parishes received during the recent culmination of the Jubilee Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis. Our Lenten presentation continues this celebration and is meant to be a springboard to inspire each of us to be a more effective sign of God's mercy to each other and the wider community going forward.
How is it similar or different from 'Lenten Lessons and Prayers: A Musical Journey with Christ'?
A Musical Journey with Christ is a presentation that centered on the life and Passion of Christ. Journey of Mercy is a prayer experience that is more interactive than A Musical Journey with Christ. Journey of Mercy highlights some of the images and stories of mercy found in the Gospels and in the writings of Pope Francis, St Teresa of Calcutta and St. Faustina. The format of Journey of Mercy is very similar to A Musical Journey in that it will feature beautiful and inspirational music, readings and reflection, but it also is a different type of prayer experience than A Musical Journey. Journey of Mercy features some songs that will be familiar to those who listen to contemporary Christian Music. We also include modern arrangements of a couple traditional hymns as well as some chant. I think anyone who was inspired by A Musical Journey will also be inspired by Journey of Mercy. I put Journey of Mercy together to be a totally new and unique experience for those who attend.
Tell us more about the flow of the program and how it fits together
Journey of Mercy starts off very solemn and mournful with the focus on Jesus and our individual longing for Jesus and prayers for healing and forgiveness. We then invite his healing, merciful love to come into our individual and collective hearts. Once we experience God's mercy our burdens are lifted and we are then able to respond to God's call to be the face of God's mercy to others. The last 1/3 of our program is very uplifting and joyful as we lift our collective minds and hearts to worship our merciful and loving God.
Click here for the current schedule of performances.
I had thought about doing something like this for several years. When I was a student at Don Bosco High School in Gilbertville, I was in a group called “Life Unlimited” that traveled to various churches and nursing homes and performed a musical about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. The music was very moving and I saw how this music touched so many lives. This experience had a big impact on me as a teen. I have been a music minister since I was in elementary school and I had often thought of what it would be like to do something like “Life Unlimited” again as an adult. This had been stirring around in my mind for about 3-4 years before I put “A musical Journey with Christ” into motion. Until 2009 the timing never seemed to be right.
Then in the spring of 2009 I attended a concert by Tatiana Cameron (also known as Tajci) at Celebration First Assembly of God Church in Waterloo. (Tatiana grew up in poverty in Communist Yugoslavia and rose to superstardom there as a pop singer before coming to the United States in 1992. While living her life as a celebrity she found that while she seemingly had everything she still felt very empty yearned for something more. Tajci came to America to be free of her celebrity status and to find herself. Before she left her native country Tajci gave most all of her money to the peace effort and she started her life over from scratch. In the United States she found her answer in prayer and in her Catholic faith. Tajci’s husband Matthew Cameron encouraged her to tell the story of her own quest for spiritual healing through music. Tajci is now 41 years old and gives concerts throughout the United States and gets requests from all over the world).
In the concert I attended, Tatiana told the story of Christ’s Passion through her musical presentation “I Thirst---The Crucifixion Story.” I again saw firsthand how the story of Christ’s life put to music can touch people. After her performance I had the opportunity to meet Tajci. I told her that what she was doing was very similar to what I wanted to do. I told her briefly what I was thinking and Tajci looked me in the eye and asked me “what is holding you back?” She encouraged me to take the next step and I began to put “A Musical Journey with Christ” together. After meeting with Tajci I began to think about what kind of music and who might be a part of my project. In putting this together I decided to include a couple of Tatiana’s music selections in the presentation.
This is the 7th season for Agnus Dei ministry and our ministry has grown and our area of ministry has expanded. Our ministry began in the spring of 2010. We presented “A Musical Journey with Christ” to 8 of the area Catholic churches in the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area and at St. Stephen the Witness Catholic Student Center on the University of Northern Iowa Campus. We also presented to the student body at Columbus High School in Waterloo. The presentations were very well received and each presentation began to attract more and more people. By the end of the season we were presenting to full churches where there was standing room only.
Many people asked us if we were going to keep our ministry going and we were contacted by other churches to please consider them if we did the program again. After prayerful consideration, we decided to go ahead and continue with the ministry a second year.
The second season (spring of 2011) we branched out and gave presentations to 13 outlying churches and traveled to Vinton, Dyersville and Dubuque. We continued to get requests from various parishes and churches around Northeast Iowa and in Lent 2012 we traveled south to the Cedar Rapids area. Our ministry also continued to branch out to other Christian churches in the Waterloo/Cedar Falls area. Audiences of many Christian denominations have heard our presentations and our ministry has truly become ecumenical and has brought many parishes and churches together.
Our ministry continued in Lent 2013 with local presentations in Waterloo as well as churches in Dysart, Oelwein, Waverly, and Mt. Vernon, Iowa. We also had presentations at St. Luke Episcopal and Nazareth Lutheran Churches in Cedar Falls. Our 2013 season concluded on Sunday, April 7th with a special benefit concert for the Cedar Valley Hospitality House with world renowned Christian Singer John Angotti. Our ministry also sang for the Mass at the Iowa Irish Festival in Waterloo on August 4th.
Lent 2014 took us to Mason City, Des Moines, Ankeny, New Hampton, and Dubuque. We also continued to present in the Waterloo / Cedar Falls area.
Our ministry continued to grow and evolve. In Lent 2015 we celebrated our 50th presentation of “A Musical Journey with Christ” at First Baptist Church in Waterloo. Agnus Dei Ministry was also invited to be part of the St. Joseph the Worker Parish Mission with a presentation at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Sumner. We also were honored to have been invited to be a part of the 50th Anniversary Celebration of St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Traer. Our travels also took us to Hudson and Cedar Rapids. We also were invited to be part of the Adult Family Life Conference sponsored by the Archdiocese of Dubuque this past November and continue to do benefit concerts and lead the music for the Waterloo Irish Fest Mass.
As we begin our 7th season we look forward to continuing our ministry in new venues in Marshalltown, West Union and Cedar Falls as well as some familiar venues in Waterloo.
We continue to get requests from churches in Northeast and Central Iowa and as well as some requests from out of state. Unfortunately, we are not able to honor every request but we do hope that those we cannot honor will be able to come and join us at one of our other presentations. We take our ministry one year at a time. We trust that the Holy Spirit will continue to guide us as we grow, evolve and discern our future. We thank you for your continued interest and prayerful support of our ministry.
-Dave Berns, founder and director of Agnus Dei Ministry
St. Edward Parish, Waterloo
Dave Berns, Kathy Berns, Jim Koch, Kathy Rath
Queen of Peace Parish, Waterloo
Mike Blad,Janet Blad
Blessed Sacrament Parish, Waterloo
Jack Eherenman, Will Evans, Jim Fineran, Doug Moore, Paula Moore
Sacred Heart Parish, Waterloo
Joanne Roche, Dave Roche
St. Patrick Parish, Cedar Falls
St. Stephen the Witness Catholic Student Center UNI
St. Mary Parish, Waverly
Sarah Gruman, Mitchell Stover
Immaculate Conception Parish, Gilbertville
Nichole Knepper, Laurie Thome
Adrian Amjadi, Andrea Berns, Mariel Contreras, Nathaniel Gee, Hannah Howland, Ben Huber, Carmen Lappe, Jeff Lappe, Mike Marlow, Jeanne Marlow, Patty McClain, Emily Nelson, Jim O’Connor, Chris Olds, Kathryn Pranger, Sue Reiter, Alex Shockley, Doug Staudt
Director of Agnus Dei Ministry
319-234-8449 319-290-0064 (C)