MILLSBORO — You’ve heard the music.
Ricky Manalo has lifted hearts and delighted audiences for years with his hymns. The award-winning teacher, composer and Paulist priest will perform at Mary, Mother of Peace Catholic Church near Millsboro at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 18.
He is best known for his hymns, which have been performed at Papal Masses by Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict and Pope Francis.
In February, his music was performed at a Papal Mass officiated by Pope Francis and attended by some 160,000 people in Abu Dhabi. It was the largest gathering of Christians ever held on the Arabian Peninsula and was the first Catholic Mass believed to be celebrated “in public,” according to Manalo’s website. “It truly was a humbling and surrendering experience, but you realize it is not about you,” he said.
He was named the 2018 Pastoral Musician of the Year Award by the National Association of Pastoral Musicians. Some of his best known hymns include: Beyond the Days, In These Days of Lenten Journey, Pange Lingua, Spirit and Grace, Worthy is the Lamb and With One Voice.
Manalo wears many hats and considers himself a missionary in the tradition of Paul. “I see myself as a true missionary,” he said.
The world traveler and author has been to ten countries in the last ten months. Among his other roles, he has traveled to six continents and 46 states in the United States. He hopes to add the remaining four states and wrangle an invitation to Antarctica so he can say that he has been invited to minister on all seven continents.
He also teaches at Santa Clara University and is credited with helping to pioneer and popularize Asian Catholic liturgical music in the United States.
He studied piano and composition at the Manhattan School of Music, theology at Washington Theological Union and sociology, literature and culture at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California.
He is grateful to be able to be both a priest and musician. Music and composing music “remains my first passion … It is all interconnected, but my heart remains in liturgical music,” he said in a telephone interview.
He hopes to be “an instrument of God’s grace.”
His greatest pleasure comes from composing as well as hearing people singing his music, in the hope it will “draw them closer to God.”
“The Holy Spirit is everywhere,” he said.
“Beyond the Days was my very first collection of liturgical music. I always had a dream that one day I would be able to share my music as a means to draw people closer to God,” he said on his website.
“I truly learn to surrender to God’s grace (when I am composing),” he said. “The more that I do not let go, the more that I get in the way.”
“By the waking of our hearts, by the stirring of our souls, may the spirit of God abide and bring us together in to Christ,” according to the hymn “By the Waking of our Hearts.”
Local choirs and musicians will also be performing with Manalo. The host choir group is St. Michael/Mary Mother of Peace Catholic Church. Visiting choirs will be from St. Jude the Apostle in Lewes, St. Edmond in Rehoboth Beach and St. Francis de Sales in Salisbury, MD.
For more information, visit rickymanolo.org.