Music and spirituality are in Steve Angrisano's blood, ever since he began composing and playing guitar with his own youth group when he was a sophomore in high school.
The nationally known Catholic youth leader, composer and performer will be in Durango next week.
"I just saw him in Cleveland at the National Youth Leaders Conference," said Mary Ralph, the pastoral associate and youth leader at St. Columba Catholic Church. "He's simple, engaging, uplifiting, prayerful. He has an ability to engage not only with teens, but with adults - the young and the young at heart."
Angrisano has a busy weekend planned, beginning with a performance at the Community Concert Hall at Fort Lewis College on Jan. 17. Ralph's hope is that he will give St. Columba's youth a jump-start into 2009.
"I try for it not to be about 'performership,'" Angrisano said in a phone interview Thursday night from the St. Louis airport. "We sing together, laugh together, pray together. That's a more important way to connect."
For the last 15 years, Angrisano has been on the road 45 weekends a year, including performances at two World Youth Days and several national conferences. His music has been issued on CDs and published for use at Catholic Churches around the world. "Go Make a Difference" was the first song that he published, and another well-known song he wrote is "My Soul is Thirsting."
"Two key dates for me were in 1993, when I was asked to sing when the Pope came to Denver," Angrisano said. "Then a song I wrote was chosen for the National Youth Conference in Indianapolis. That's when I realized that I could do this, that it's not so different from when I had 50 kids on Wednesday nights at my own parish."
Ralph said Angrisano's visit, while sponsored by St. Columba's Youth Ministry, is open to kids, families and youth leaders from the community. She feels his work is inclusive of all Christians.
"I like to break down walls," Angrisano said in agreement. "I think the differences between us are far less than the similarities."
Angrisano has one other goal for his appearances.
"I want to help us all to see that our faith is not just in church on Sundays," he said. "I want people to allow God to be present every day and to see all the miracles he gives us every day, to not compartmentalize God away from the rest of our lives."