Parish Takes Artistic Look at Year of Faith

by Antonina Zielinska

Jan Roszkowski and Malgorzata Kellis perform for at St. Rose of Lima, Parkville, in an effort to help those in attendance gain a better understanding of God.
Jan Roszkowski and Malgorzata Kellis perform for at St. Rose of Lima, Parkville, in an effort to help those in attendance gain a better understanding of God.

In an effort to make the most of the current Year of Faith, St. Rose of Lima parish, Parkville, hosted a concert and art exhibit to explore the Catholic faith.

By combining an evening of music and art, Father Luke Trocha, pastor, said those gathered had a chance to gain a glimpse of that which is impossible to fully comprehend.

“We can’t grasp all of God, we can only approximate God,” he said. “I believe that artists have a gift of perception of faith, and they share that gift with us.”

Malgorzata Kellis, a professional soprano singer, and Jan Roszkowski, a professional cello player, started the evening by performing an “Unusual Concert,” so titled because of the atypical pairing of instruments.

Before each part, Kellis told the standing-room-only audience about the composer of the works. She explained their biographies and the motivation behind their pieces as well as their struggles in their relationships with God.

“I feel that we, as artists, should not just make art but also educate,” she said, describing her performance style. “Everyone has the right to know, but not everyone has the opportunity.”

She said people of all walks of life should be able to benefit from and enjoy live classical music.

“I think Father Luke did a great deed because not everyone has time or money to go to an exhibition hall,” she added.

New Ways of Experiencing God

Exposing people to new ways of experiencing God was the effort behind the art exhibit that was coordinated by Magdalena Zielinska.

The parish invited amateur and professional artists from throughout the diocese to submit works to be displayed in the church’s cultural center. Artists from Brooklyn and Queens responded with work displaying their interpretation of the exhibit’s theme: “Varying Paths of Faith.”

Joan Vuolo, a parishioner of St. Rose, said she thoroughly enjoyed the evening of culture. She said the music and art complemented each other well because the musicians and artists were able to express different aspects of faith.

“It makes me feel the presence of God,” she said.

Zielinska said inviting people to experience God in a new way is the role of religious art. Artists should compel people to think outside of their comfort zones.

“When someone represents his or her own faith, it makes you think,” she said. “Artists are meant to shake your stagnation.”

Among the artists who responded to the challenge was Theresa Flaherty of St. Fidelis parish, College Point.

“I don’t usually make religious art because it’s hard to show truths that can’t actually be seen,” she said. “But God is really important in my life, so I thought this was a good opportunity to start.”

Vuolo said she was grateful to Flaherty and the other artists who took the time to share their talents.

“I feel like I am in a museum,” she exclaimed as she stood in the parish cultural center. “Having the artists here, walking around with the people – that’s a great feeling.”

Zielinska added that another goal of the exhibit was to bring people together from different walks of life. She said that the different socio-economic and cultural backgrounds of the artists, musicians and attendees enriched the evening because it had the benefit of drawing from many different life experiences.

“We all believe in one God, but we express ourselves differently,” she said.