ValLimar Jansen’s spiritual workout connects with youth

Energetic and enthusiastic audience responds to acclaimed singer’s message about taking active interest in the Mass

AN ENGAGING MESSAGE Nationally acclaimed singer and speaker ValLimar Jansen delivers a powerful message to youth attending her session during the Eucharistic Congress on Sept. 14. Photo by Pam Rhodes

AN ENGAGING MESSAGE Nationally acclaimed singer and speaker ValLimar Jansen delivers a powerful message to youth attending her session during the Eucharistic Congress on Sept. 14. Photo by Pam Rhodes

If you were expecting to sit back and be entertained at the workshop led by ValLimar Jansen at the Eucharistic Congress on Sept. 14, she would quickly remind you of the responsibility of every Catholic to actively participate at Mass and invite you to take your place in the “primary choir.”

Speaking to an energetic and enthusiastic audience of around 400 youth, Mrs. Jansen, a cantor, recording artist, and university professor, not only performed but also catechized everyone in the room regarding the importance of taking an active part with the Catholic community at Mass through singing, praying, and giving praise to God.

The spiritual workout even came with a cooldown at the end of her presentation.

Mrs. Jansen said that too often people arrive at Mass distracted and are content to go through the motions forgetting that we all need to be fully present in mind, body, and spirit, enabling the faithful to “commune and unite” with Christ through his presence in the Eucharist in order to be transformed and be his presence in the world.

She said “our faith requires us to take a journey” and that “every day we take baby steps of faith,” because our job on earth is to get ready for heaven and to help our brothers and sisters on their journeys as well.

With that in mind, Mrs. Jansen engaged her audience in song and reminded the group that when we gather for Mass we “share our stories and the stories of our forefathers and foremothers, the saints, martyrs, and our personal faith” and that Jesus is with us through the Scriptures, the Eucharist, and also within the Catholic community.

She also encouraged the attendees to be mindful of their posture at Mass and to recognize the light of Christ in one another.

The presentation concluded with two one-woman skits. Mrs. Jansen first channeled Mary, the wife of Cleopas who was one of the women who went to prepare the body of Jesus after his crucifixion and burial.

She humorously portrayed Mary’s consternation with her husband’s disbelief of her report that Jesus was no longer in the tomb and that a “gardener” had chastised her for looking for Christ there since he had already risen from the dead.

She then movingly captured Mary’s wonder and joy when her husband later told her about his own experience on the road to Emmaus when he and the disciples recognized their Lord “in the breaking of the bread.”

The second skit focused on the encounter between the Samaritan woman at the well and Jesus. Mrs. Jansen portrayed her as worldly and marginalized—a woman who had to get water from the well when no one else was around because she was considered an outcast.

She captured the woman’s disbelief and initial distrust of Christ when he asked her for a drink of water, then her irrepressible joy after realizing that the “living water” he offered was for the salvation of all because he was the promised Messiah.

Mrs. Jansen’s enthusiasm for her subject impressed several of the workshop’s participants. Kris DeGeere and her daughter, Morgan, a Notre Dame High School student, were impressed by “her charisma” and that she could “teach the parts of the Mass and then weave them together with song.”

“You felt like you were meeting Jesus for the first time like the woman at the well,” Mrs. DeGeere said.

Abbey Markus, a high school student who attends Holy Spirit Church in Soddy-Daisy, was most impressed with “how strong she was in her faith—that impressed me.”

Hunter Gruter, another Notre Dame High School student attending the Eucharistic Congress, felt “uplifted” and enjoyed Mrs. Jansen’s “physical” approach of spreading her love of the faith.

It appears that Mrs. Jansen’s message was well-received and that it successfully nourished the faith of the attendees.