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Past Projects

Odell Gordon, President,
Holy Family Parish Council,

Rev. Jeremiah Boland,
Holy Family Parish

Special Guests
Brother Robert Reinke, CFP, Brothers of the Poor of St. Francis

Brother Britto Aloysian, CMSS, Franciscan Missionary Brothers

Two Trees
Louise Dimiceli-Mitran
Gerry Dignan
Sam Parker and the Holy Family Gospel Choir

Scenes from Sri Lanka
Presentation designed by Charlie Billups

The Prayer of St. Francis
Al Jewer, Gerry Dignan

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace, For it is in giving that we receive;
where there is hatred, let me sow love; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
where there is injury, pardon; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

Two Trees
is a world music duo combining the talents of internationally acclaimed flutist, Al Jewer and Emmy Award-winning percussionist and keyboard artist, Andy Mitran. Their recent release, Two Trees, made its nationwide debut at number four on the NewAge/World Music chart and has had airplay on more than 700 stations worldwide.

Al Jewer is also a composer, studio musician and record producer. His collection of flutes includes instruments from every major culture of the world. Al’s work can be heard in scores of film and videos and on more than 25 CDs spanning the last 15 years. His first CD on Laughing Cat Records, Prairie Plain Song, made its debut at number four on the nationwide radio charts.

Andy Mitran, five-time Emmy Award winner, is co-owner of Mitran Mitran Music in Chicago which produces, composes and performs music for radio, television, educational film and corporate video. Andy spent 14 years as music director and on-air character, “Professor Andy,” on WGN-TV’s award-winning “Bozo Show.”

Louise Dimiceli-Mitran is a nationally known singer-songwriter and music therapist. Her original jazz-flavored songs have been featured in the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and on PBS.

A board certified music therapist in private practice in Chicago, Louise’s diversified musical career includes three years on the faculty of The Old Town School of Folk Music, 20 years of nationwide live performances and 17 years as producer, songwriter and co-owner of Mitran Mitran Music, Chicago with her husband, Andy. She also leads corporate and community drum circles with her company, Rhythms Within. Louise’s songs and vocals can be heard on “Zoo Zoo Zoom,” an educational children’s CD collection available at

Gerry Dignan, is a modern-day troubadour of Celtic, African and Spanish folk songs. His vocal style has been hailed as a mix of Andrea Bocelli, John Denver and Ray Charles. Gerry has been moving audiences with his heartfull, spirit-filled voice for decades. His greatest joy is bringing people to their own deep sense of the Source of Life. He believes that songs serve as a bridge between the everyday lives we live and the Source that gives us life every day.

He records with the internationally recognized family music program, “Music Together,” has recorded with Grammy nominated cellist, David Darling, and has contributed to the work of Darling’s group, “Music for People.”

Gerry, a member of the Chicago Symphony Chorus, maintains his own Irish roots singing regularly at McNamara’s Irish Restaurant on Chicago’s north side, and has been a member and soloist in the Holy Family Gospel Choir for more than 20 years. Gerry and his wife, Denise, have recently produced a CD, “Harvest of Life, Songs of Hope and Celebration,” available at

Holy Family Gospel Choir directed by Sam Parker

Sam Parker has been helping people of all faiths raise their voices in song to praise the Lord for decades.

Sam directed his first choir at the age of 11, the same year he won the Morris B. Sachs Original Amateur Hour television show for an original composition.

Through the years, Sam has directed youth and adult choirs in Baptist, Methodist, Roman Catholic and non-denominational settings. He has composed and arranged many Gospel and inspirational selections. He is the composer of the “Mass of Family Spirit,” and he has produced record albums, hosted television programs, and appeared in concert at Orchestra Hall, the Civic Opera House and other venues throughout the U.S.

Sam’s journey with “new Gospel sound” has taken him to St. James on South Wabash Avenue, Children of Peace and Our Lady of the West Side elementary schools, where he directs children’s choirs. He has been leading the widely acclaimed and spirited Holy Family Gospel Choir for three decades.

Grand Finale
"Sanctuary!" concert performers join together in a musical tribute to the survival of the Spirit.

A special word of thanks to all who made this evening memorable
As our song suggests, we “believe in miracles” – and this concert is a wonderful example of people around the world linking up to help others in need to create a small miracle.

This tsunami benefit concert would never have happened were it not for the thoughtful suggestion of Brother Robert Reinke, CFP, a member of the Brothers of the Poor of St. Francis, who learned first hand about the tsunami survivors of Sri Lanka from his fellow Franciscan living in Trinity Friary, Brooklyn, Brother Britto Aloysian, CMSS. Brother Britto is a Franciscan Missionary Brother from Sri Lanka who just two years ago helped build the Assisi Home with his own hands. Brother Robert, a Chicago native, shared his concerns for the tsunami survivors, especially the children, with his cousin, Carol Russell, who shared stories and photos of the disaster with her fellow staff member at Orland Park’s High Point Elementary School, Gerry Dignan, a Spanish teacher.

The parishioners of Holy Family Parish, led by Father Jerry Boland, helped in innumerable ways. Odell Gordon, Parish Council President, and his fellow parishioners responded quickly to our suggestion to stage a benefit concert to help the Franciscan Missionary Brothers who minister to the tsunami survivors, including more than 1,500 children orphaned by the disaster.

Special thanks to: Charlie Billups for creating a striking concert Web page; Angela Hill, who coordinated tickets; Joseph Ramirez and the Mexican-American Veterans Post who assisted with parking; Safer Foundation members who helped us with arrangements; Janita Wilson and the Youth Ministry Team; Sister Marion and the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Holy Family’s volunteer public relations firm, Public Communications Inc., led by Richard Barry, who together with Sara Conley, Dianne O’Rourke, Chad Kersman, Kathy Leszczynski and Bob Szafranski created our logo, flyers and program and have spread the word of this event far and wide through print and broadcast media coverage.

Our fellow artists, Al Jewer, Andy Mitran, Louise Dimiceli-Mitran, Sam Parker and members of the Holy Family Gospel Choir have shared their great gifts of voice and song for this important cause.

And to all who have contributed funds to provide clean water, food and shelter to the people of Sri Lanka seeking sanctuary with the Franciscan Missionary Brothers, making this special evening a practical expression of the spirit of compassion, Chicago-style—a very deep thank you.
– Denise and Gerry Dignan

All proceeds of the “Sanctuary!” concert will be used to provide relief for the tsunami survivors in Sri Lanka.
Checks may be made payable to: “Franciscan Missionary Brothers,”
Donations accepted by mail at Holy Family Parish, 1019 South May Street, Chicago, IL 60607
(312) 492-8442

January 19, 2005

Dear Benefactors,
You have been very kind to respond so quickly to my request to help the victims of the tsunami. I would like to brief you, who have been so generous to help us, on the progress and plans of our projects.

There are two Brothers, Bro. Ignatiaus and Bro. Selvanayagam, who are assigned at Assisi Illam (Home).* (The Assisi Illam was built for 65 boys)

In the aftermath of the tsunami, the two Brothers found themselves with 1500 children, including our boys in residence, to care for at the Assisi Boys Home.

Since the people in the area have a good understanding of the Brothers’ mission, it was quite natural for those who lived in nearby villages to come to the boys’ home in time of need. The numbers seeking help grew very quickly, because the people were more than certain that the Brothers would take care of their needs and not turn them away. Even those who originally went to other welfare centers came to the boys’ home as word spread that relief assistance was being given at our home more quickly than elsewhere. They came from the villages of Kurukkalmadam, Thamimapuram, and Chattipalam, which are near to Assisi Illam, in Batticaoa.

We have especially helped the children, providing not only for the boys in our home, but also the children in these villages.

Since the Brothers had helped for a long time in these areas, they were able to identify the children without both parents and those with one parent or with a relative. There were both boys and girls in our homes as refugees. We looked after them on our premises for a number of days and now those able have gone back to their damaged homes, loved ones, friends, or relatives. We have been monitoring their welfare with the help of volunteers and retired senior citizens.

We are still helping these children and families since they do not have proper jobs to earn money to cover their daily expenses. We are planning for the boys who have lost both parents and/or relatives. Besides the boys home in Batticaoa, we have sufficient room at other sites to house them. I will be making arrangements with the Sisters for the care of the girls and infants. We do, however, need financial assistance for their upkeep.

We need the generosity of many donors. These children will be fed, clothed, educated and lovingly cared for by our Brothers. We will promote their spiritual and psychological growth as well.

Thanking you
With much expectation,
Bro. J. Christy Tissera CMSF

* The Brothers call their orphanages “homes.” The Brothers do not wish to stigmatize the children as orphans. They do have a home with the Brothers.