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‘Nuestra Alegría’ song captures joy of V Encuentro

South Florida musician composes official tune for upcoming nationwide meeting

English Spanish

MIAMI | Contacted via email and social media such Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, dozens of Hispanic youths and young adults took part in the filming recently of a music video for the official song of the V Encuentro, “Nuestra Alegria” (Our Joy).

Youths from groups such as Caminando con Cristo (Walking with Christ), Voceros de Cristo (Voices for Christ), 212 Youth on Fire, Kairos and Encuentros Juveniles, among others, responded to the call Feb. 20 and showed up on the grounds of the Southeast Pastoral Institute (SEPI), so that “the joy of our youth ministry of the Archdiocese of Miami is represented in the V Encuentro,” said Cristal Castillo, coordinator of the Pastoral Juvenil Hispana (Hispanic Young Adult Ministry).

She added that participating in this video “is a new experience and it’s very exciting. You realize how rich our Church is and you feel proud to be a part of the Catholic Church.”

“I came because I wanted to enjoy the video and dance and experience what it is to participate in a project like this one in the name of God and for the Lord,” said Darwin Mieles, 27, a member of 212 Youth on Fire at St. Joseph Church, Miami Beach.

While the young people danced, Banda Epic, made up of young adults from St. John XXIII Parish in Miramar, performed on the video, which can be described as a festival of joy.

“We want to show the world that the youths from Miami are happy, they believe in Christ and they want to share that joy with the whole world,” said Ivan Diaz, the song’s composer and singer. A South Florida resident with roots in Colombia, he said he titled the song “Our Joy”because “we are a joyful Church, we are a Church that is ‘en salida’ (going out) as Pope Francis says.”

In addition, “the message that is being transmitted is that we need to have unity in diversity. We are all Latinos, we are from different places, but under one same flag in this country that has welcomed us and that we also have welcomed,” said Carlos Zamudio, an evangelical Christian with experience in producing music videos for Christian songs.

The experience of producing a Catholic music video “is marvelous as anything, without expecting anything in return,” he said. “We love the same God, the same Christ and we are brothers and sisters in Christ. For me, anything that has to do with pleasing the Lord and serving him is gratifying.”

To make the video possible, the archdiocesan Office of Catechesis helped send out emails to youth and young adult groups.

“A lot of people felt the call to contribute their talent not for self-interest, not for profit, simply to share their joy, their faith. We are all volunteers,” said Diaz.

Although there is no official release date for the video, once it is ready it will be promoted through social media, on YouTube and local TV channels.


“Nuestra Alegria”

The song, “Nuestra Alegria,” is a missionary anthem that extols the joy and privilege of serving Christ in the Church, said Diaz, who serves as music director at St. Francis de Sales Parish, Miami Beach.

“It is a dynamic, joyful song, with a Caribbean beat that connects the youths and makes them want to dance once they feel the rhythm and strength” — the strength to transmit what the V Encuentro is.

“Nuestra Alegria” was chosen as the official song after Oregon Catholic Press (OCP) sent out a request in 2015 for composers from all over the country to participate in the creation of a CD to accompany the V Encuentro.

In January 2016, the final songs were chosen for the CD, which is entitled “Discipulos Misioneros” (Missionary Disciples). “Nuestra Alegria” was included in the selection, and the CD was released this January.

Also in the soundtrack are songs by renowned composers such as Santiago Fernandez, one of the principal Hispanic liturgical composers in the Church today; Pedro Rubalcava, a composer with experience in various musical styles; and Albert Coppo, a Peruvian musician residing in Miami whose song, “Somos Discipulos Misioneros,” gave the CD its title track.

After that, the national committee of the V Encuentro and the U.S. bishops’ conference chose “Nuestra Alegria” as the official song and the SEPI campus as the location for the video’s production.

“It gives me great joy that the song is part of this project and that it is the theme chosen to attract more youths,” said Diaz.

The beauty of the architecture at SEPI was one of the reasons Miami was chosen. The other was the great diversity of Hispanics here from different countries, whose cultures mix and mingle and all contribute something.

Pastorally, Miami models the outreach to Hispanics that has served as inspiration for other dioceses, because most archdiocesan churches offer bilingual Masses and programs.

That’s the concept the V Encuentro is looking to promote: the importance of evangelizing in a multicultural way, where every language is fundamentally valued in the preaching of the Gospel, in the liturgy, in the prayer groups and in pastoral activities; where respect exists for the culture and language of the many immigrants who arrive, so that their Catholic faith can continue to grow.  

A member of the OCP since the age of four, Diaz noted the high professional quality of the song and video, which were produced by experienced musicians who have been recognized by The Recording Academy, including with Grammy awards.

That quality reflects the simple act of doing things right when producing music for God, and creating a consensus that Catholic music is important in evangelizing.

“Catechesis should be accompanied by music because with music we can reach everyone,” said Diaz.

“For me, it was a pleasure and a privilege that they had me in mind. I enjoyed working on the song,” said Shafik Palis, the sound engineer who mixed the various tracks for the song. Palis has won a number of Grammys, both as a musician and a sound engineer.

“What I like about the song is the joy that it has, the lyrics, the melody and the voice,” said Cristabel Chavarria, a Honduran singer and actress who recorded the refrains of the song with Tadeo Castro, another Catholic singer from South Florida.

“I think this song is going to greatly impact the youths and bring much unity,” Chavarria added.

Music brings people together, especially today, said Charlie Gonzalez, a member of Banda Epic. “Music is something essential that stirs so many emotions, especially when you are making it with such a positive message, the word of God. A song, if put it together with God’s message of God, will attract any young person.”

To read the lyrics (in Spanish) of “Nuestra Alegria” click here.    

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