Festival of Praise

Frequently Asked Questions

When did FOPs start here at OLPH?

Our Festivals of Praise (FOP) began here at OLPH around 2011.  Inspired by similar gatherings at Franciscan University of Steubenville, a small crew of young families and friends asked our pastor for more opportunities to worship together before the Blessed Sacrament, leading their children with music and prayer.  By God’s grace and through the encouragement of our priests at that time – Fr. Erik Arnold and Fr. John Rapisarda –  these monthly holy hours slowly grew year after year, attracting more parishioners, friends, and musicians who like to pray in the same way.  The Festivals of Praise are now a staple of our parish life, and we are honored and humbled by the hundreds of visitors who come from across the Archdiocese. With the addition of the after-FOP “Backyard Bash,” we hope everyone will stay to continue enjoying each other’s company and get to know their fellow worshippers a little better.

To learn more about Franciscan University’s Festivals of Praise, click here: https://chapel.franciscan.edu/campus-evangelization/

How do you decide which songs to play?

Our presiders typically choose the theme and scripture reading for each month’s FOP, sometimes focusing on the liturgical seasons and other times responding to whatever inspiration the Spirit gives them to share with the community gathered. Much like our weekend Masses, our worship leaders will then take these readings and themes to prayer, and carefully discern which songs will best lead us to a place of “communal meditation” and intimacy with our Lord.  While music is an important component of the event, it is not intended to be the main focus; but rather a means to help our guests let go of distractions and worries, open up their minds and hearts, and receive whatever the Lord has in store for them that night.  We aim to lead people to a depth of prayer where the music fades to the background, and their focus is instead completely fixed on Jesus.   

Who are the musicians on the worship team?

All of our musicians are active parishioners at OLPH or neighboring parishes, from many different walks of life and musical backgrounds.  Most of our members are volunteers, but some are also professional musicians, having been trained in music performance and music ministry since college or even younger.  All have been brought together by their love of Jesus and a charism for leading others closer to him through music.  We are grateful to have such a robust team to serve at our liturgies, FOPs, and other events throughout the year. 

What are Prayer Teams?

Our Prayer Team members are individuals who have embraced the charism of intercession – praying with and for other people. They pray alongside people for physical, emotional, and spiritual healing; clarity in particular situations or decision-making; praying for loved ones; the growth of spiritual gifts or charisms; the revelation of various obstacles in our relationship with the Lord; really anything you would like to bring to the Lord in prayer.  Some are also trained in Unbound Prayer Ministry, which can be helpful for needs that require more time than our teams can offer at a FOP.  If you would like to receive prayer, simply approach a Prayer Team at the end of a FOP.  If you are interested in learning more about becoming a Prayer Team member, please visit https://olphparish.org/prayer.

Sometimes I see people raising their hands and moving around or mumbling while they worship.  What’s that all about?

Time and again throughout Scripture, we see people responding to the presence and work of God with physical expressions of prayer: Moses removed his shoes before the burning bush (Exodus 3:5-6); David danced before the Ark of the Covenant as it was brought into Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:14); the Israelites celebrated “with all their might” before the Lord, with a variety of stringed and percussive instruments (2 Samuel 6:5); the hemorrhaging woman reached out her hand to Jesus, trusting in his healing power (Luke 8:43-48); a leper fell at Jesus’ feet, “glorifying God in a loud voice,” after he realized he had been healed (Luke 17:15-16); the angels themselves fall on their faces before the throne of God (Revelation 7:11); and numerous Psalms exhort us to shout for joy, sing praise to our God, and lift up our hands in his name.  

Just as we witness in human relationships, the more our love grows for a person, the more disposed we become to public displays of affection, and less concerned about what others might think of us in the moment. So too for worshippers who truly believe what they sing, and truly know and love the Lord; their fervor can overflow in physical displays of trust and affection toward him.   At Festivals of Praise and similar events, the combination of song, proclamation of the Word, preaching, intercessory prayer, and general openness to the workings of the Spirit can have a variety of spiritual and emotional effects on participants, resulting in tears of gratitude or repentance, the use of different prayer postures, and overwhelming joy and laughter.

Scripture also tells us about a number of spiritual gifts that can manifest during these intense times of prayer.  The disciples gathered at Pentecost experienced speaking in and understanding new languages (Acts 2:1-12); they were able to conduct physical healings just as Jesus did (Acts 3:1-10); they were able to preach with new boldness and conviction (Acts 2 and Acts 7); they accomplished many signs and wonders in Jesus’ name, just as he promised they would (John 14:10-14).  We believe that these gifts and supernatural powers were available not only to those contemporaries of Jesus, but that they are still very much alive and accessible today for anyone open to the Spirit’s action in their lives.

What type of technology and apps do you use in your planning and during the FOP?

Our parish has a CCLI account that we use to search and download sheet music.  We also have a Planning Center account where all our music is stored digitally, allowing us to download and print music or view it digitally.  Planning Center connects to the Music Stand app, which allows us to view and “turn the page” on our sheet music on tablets or other devices. Some of our instrumentalists also use a Bluetooth foot pedal connected to those devices for hands-free page turning.

Our house mixer is a Soundcraft Si digital mixer, which allows us to save settings for different music groups and monitor levels.  We have floor wedge monitors that are used during most of our liturgies, but in-ear monitors are also used for services when we have a larger worship team.  Our in-ear monitors are Behringer P2 ultra-compact personal IEMs. The Mixing Station app also allows our musicians to connect to the mixer settings and adjust their own monitor levels as needed.

Our A/V team uses the Proclaim program to order and display lyrics and other graphics. 

How can we start something like this at our parish?

We would love to accompany parishes that desire to bring more Adoration-based events to their congregation.  Remember that our FOPs started very small, many years ago, and so most parishes also need to begin small and assess the needs and availability of their own people.  But great things can happen with the right amount of time, prayer, and teamwork!  Please reach out to our Coordinator of Evangelization, Becky Needham, with any questions or to explore different options for your community: becky.needham@archbalt.org.