APPLETON — An Oshkosh artist who sketched images of Jesus while praying at the bedside of his terminally ill daughter will set the stage for an Advent music concert designed to bring both adults and children closer to God.
Brian Keliher will discuss his Ars Deo (Latin for “Art for God”) ministry as a prelude to “Behold the Lamb of God: The True Tale of the Coming of Christ” at 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 18, at Xavier Fine Arts Theatre, 1600 W. Prospect Ave.
Behold the Lamb of God by composer Andrew Peterson tells the story of the coming of Christ. Approximately 22 area musicians and crew members will present the 45-minute show.
Keliher and his wife, Jean, are the parents of five children. The oldest, Kendra, died last January at the age of 16 after a lengthy illness.
When Kendra was in surgery or during long hospital stays, her father would sit in the hospital and focus on religious images he had seen or on his own personal spiritual experiences and capture them using pencil and charcoal. Often, he drew the image upside down, which his wife said allowed him to “disconnect from the literal sense of what was being drawn.”
Keliher has been an artist his entire life and studied graphic design in college. He and his wife said the Ars Deo ministry helps them to grieve the loss of Kendra and reach out to others who are suffering.
Both the Kelihers and Nathan VandeHey, who directs and performs in Behold the Lamb of God, are motivated by a desire to bring others to God. “If we start a spark … the Holy Spirit will light a fire and do the rest,” VandeHey said.
This is the eighth year Behold the Lamb of God will be presented in the Fox Valley. The show is also presented to faith formation programs, and the public is welcome to attend those as well, VandeHey said. Some of the performers are amateurs, while others are professional musicians or have studied music in college, including VandeHey’s daughter, Marie, and saxophonist Michael Vanderscheuren, a Kaukauna music teacher.
One of the standout musicians is eighth grader Olivia Gadbois, a violinist who recently placed fourth in a state music competition.
The musicians give all donations they receive to charity. VandeHey explained the performers’ motivation for the long hours of practice and performing, saying, “If just one person appreciates what Christmas means, it will be worth it.”
CIA-Faith Mission Operatives, a lay Catholic ministry recognized by the Diocese of Green Bay, is sponsoring the event as part of its mission to help Catholics investigate their faith. Tickets are not needed, but a collection will be taken.