Raye: Praise God in all things

Country music star Collin Raye will bring joy and fun to the faith at the Heartland Family Festival and concert Aug. 2 in Omaha – but he hopes to more intimately share some of his life’s ups and downs, joy and tragedy the night before at the Archdiocese of Omaha’s Heartland Catholic Men’s Conference.

"We suffered a huge loss a few years back," Raye said.

That loss was his granddaughter, Haley Bell, who suffered from an undiagnosed neurological disorder and died four years ago, shortly before her 10th birthday, he said.

Facing that truth – and praising God anyway – leads to freedom and joy, Raye said.

"How do you do that?" he asked. "He doesn’t need to prove himself to me. His mercy and forgiveness are enough. He doesn’t need to do anything else."

Raye’s talk for the Aug. 1 men’s conference – which could draw as many as 1,000 men to Christ the King Church in Omaha – is titled "His Love Remains."

Two other performers at the family festival also will speak at the conference – and like Raye, they will address the challenges as well as the joys life has brought them.

Comedian Jonnie W. and folk-rock musician Mike Mangione will talk to the men about drawing closer to Christ, keeping the faith and using gifts such as humor and music to reach out to others, said Peter Kennedy, manager of adult faith formation in the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis.

Jonnie W. will focus on his relationship with his father and Mangione will reflect on family and career at middle age, Kennedy said.

"The idea is to look at all stages of life and where this journey can take us," Kennedy said.

Raye also tells his story in his recently-published autobiography, "A Voice Undefeated," which will be available along with his recordings at the men’s conference and the family festival. Jonnie W’s and Mangione’s recorded material also will be available at the conference and the festival.

Tickets for the men’s conference are $10 and available online at the archdiocese’s website, archomaha.org/ministry/programs-and-conferences, Adoremus Books in Omaha and Gloria Deo bookstores in Omaha and Lincoln and Spirit Catholic Radio offices.

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