By Annaleigh Gidosh
Music is a form of ministry for Catholic brothers Alex and Danylo Fedoryka, who founded the band, Scythian, which played for its 17th year at Musikfest this past week. The band is not explicitly Catholic, but throughout the past 2,000 years the Church has utilized different art forms to convey hope and salvation to new audiences.
For many, music is a form of beauty that lifts them to God. Vocalist Alex Fedoryka explained, “We are confident that if we do what we were called to do and bring joy to other people – that is where the Holy Spirit can open people’s hearts. He can do whatever He needs to do. It is a form of ministry for us because we lighten people’s burdens.”
Though religion is undergoing a significant decline in the West, some still see the possibility of art pointing towards the transcendent. Pope Benedict XVI, a musician and champion of the arts, spoke of how beauty could open the doors to the divine. “Art is capable of making visible our need to go beyond what we see, and it reveals our thirst for infinite beauty, for God,” the late Pope once said to a gathering of pilgrims.
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, is far from the frescoed walls of the Vatican and the choral theaters of Europe. At Musikfest, the folk band performed for a moderate but enthusiastic crowd that included people of all ages and backgrounds. In their lyrics, one could detect a hint of the divine.
In their song “Hey Mama Ya,” the vocalist croons about potter’s fields, rooster’s crows, and preacher’s promises. One might be tempted to interpret the religious imagery in a literal way, but the meaning remains mysterious.
Danylo Fedoryka (left) and Alex Fedoryka (center) perform on stage at Musikfest.
“I learned as a young boy that music was a gift from God and to play to the best of my abilities – our talents were gifts for others,” Alex Fedoryko said.
“We did that from young children playing classical music in nursing homes and cancer fundraisers. The idea was that if you were playing it beautifully and well, beauty was transmitted, and the Holy Spirit could work through it.”
Some who came out to see Scythian at Musikfest knew that the brothers met the band’s other members met at Catholic colleges. Colleen Mitchell, a parishioner at Holy Ghost, Bethlehem, remarked that the band is a “good, family-friendly band.” Christopher Oats, also a parishioner at Holy Ghost, observed, “They show their family values and heritage.”
Pope Benedict XVI taught that it is often through art that one can see oneself cooperating with God in the divine act of creation. Judging by the joy of the crowd, which was caught up on its feet, singing, clapping, and dancing as well as laughing at the artists’ wit between acts, it is obvious Scythian is succeeding in their ministry.
Scythian fans and Holy Ghost parishioners Chris Oates and Colleen Mitchell attend Musikfest.