Irish Missionary on Stage at Rome's New JP2 Pub

Maeve Heaney Sees Music as Bridge to God

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ROME, MARCH 9, 2011 ( Maeve Heaney, Irish missionary and singer, was the latest act at a new pub named after John Paul II, opened in the crypt of a basilica near St. Peter’s Square.

Father Maurizio Mirilli, head of youth ministry for the Diocese of Rome, initiated the project to turn the crypt of the Basilica di San Carlo al Corso into the GP2, or “Giovanni Paolo II” pub.

The dome of this basilica, as seen from the hill of the Trinita dei Monti, seems to be a little bit bigger than the copula of St. Peter’s Basilica.

Under the address “Vicolo del Grottino 3b,” in the crypt of the basilica, there is a special youth club. At night, the doors are wide open and visitors are welcomed by the sound of rock music. Patrons climb down the old stairs illuminated by candlelight into the underground.

This club was created in the spirit of John Paul II, who regarded the youth culture, their music, their spirit and friendship as a breeding ground of future apostles.

The stylish grotto has a beautiful aura and is decorated with phrases of saints, including a Gospel quote from Christ: “Give me a drink.”

Recently, the club featured Maeve Heaney as one of the onstage performers.

The young people who serve beer, juice and Roman paninis with are all volunteers. They give of their time to serve after finishing their studies and work.

Guests normally stay in this place until 1:00 a.m. The staff explained to ZENIT that often, for a Saturday evening concert, over 180 people will gather.


In Heaney’s recent performance, the audience listened to songs about the longing for more, the thirst for life and love, for God. Some people sang and danced along.

For Heaney, who has taken part in several World Youth Days, and even gave a concert for the 2005 event in Cologne, Germany, these performances are an expression of her mission.

The missionary of Verbum Dei, who completed a doctorate in theology on “music in and as theology,” noted that music can be a bridge to God.

She explained to ZENIT that music is “a really welcoming bridge for all who are far from the Church.”

Heaney noted, “If our mind blocks and represses a vivid experience, then music can reach out to the feelings and touch the deep layers.”

She spoke about the publication of her first book, “Music as Theological Praxis,” which deals with the question of the “dimensions of contemporary music as a means of mediation of faith.”

With this publication of her doctoral thesis, which was accepted by the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Heaney stated that she wants to provide a new impetus for evangelization through music.

“God wants to conquer every heart and he is able to — also through the means of music,” Heaney affirmed.

She added, “Music reaches out and gets directly to the human heart; it is similar to God’s love that simply wants to touch each person’s life directly.”

[With the contribution of Angela Reddemann]
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