Musicians play during an Array of Hope event. From left, front row, are Dan Ferrari, Lauren Costabile, Brianne Nealon and Nicky Costabile; in the back row are Jack Garno on guitar and Jimmy Meier on drums. (Courtesy of Matrix of Hope/Jeffrey Bruno)
I met Mario Costabile, executive director of Array of Hope, a few months ago while interviewing him on CatholicTV. My producers gave me a quick rundown of the successful film and music producer and, impressed, I did a Google search on him.
After reading about his 40 years of experience producing shows for MTV, Discovery Channel, Yamaha, Sony and more, I was a little nervous to meet and interview him. This may be an unpopular opinion, but I think that when a person has achieved a high level of success, it is perfectly reasonable for him to be a bit demanding of everyone around him. Sure, they can be tough on their team or their rookie interviewer (me), but that wouldn’t be half as tough on themselves.
I went into the interview with a clear understanding of my role as “The Little One”, determined to keep my head down and focus. To my surprise, I was immediately met with a smile and a handshake that didn’t even hint at the world of difference between our stations in the media world. Mario’s kindness and warmth radiated from our set to our viewers’ living rooms. It was a success not only for the camera crew and myself, but for everyone who made it to their interview.
Mario Costabile (Courtesy of Array of Hope/Jeffrey Bruno)
And so, when the opportunity arose to interview Mario again about his ministry, Array of Hope, I jumped at the chance.
For this interview, Mario and I video chatted, Mario in his office in New Jersey and me on my couch in Boston. I asked him to start at the beginning and that is how he described the beginning of his ministry (a source for contemporary Christian music, movies and events) in 2010.
“It was launched with the inspiration of trying to evangelize like our evangelical brothers and sisters,” Mario told me. “At the time, I was working with an evangelical band in Nashville. I was hanging out with a lot of Christian artists and producers there, including Casting Crowns and Chris Tomlin and Amy Grant. I was impressed with the quality of their work and their ability to pass on the faith in an exciting way.”
I found myself nodding as he described how to find inspiration in our Christian brothers and sisters. I asked if he felt inspiration alone had been the catalyst for leaving a successful four-decade secular career, but he insisted it was more than that, pointing to the Holy Spirit as the agent of change in his life.
“I was successful,” he said. “I had a great career, marriage and children, but I still had a longing… Something was missing and there was still no sense of true fulfillment. I now see that God was preparing me in my secular career for this. God spent my whole life working on my heart and it wasn’t until I was 50 that I was really ready to start.
Imagine that? A 40-year career characterized by as much media success as anyone could dream of, and yet it still wasn’t even the beginning for him.
In 2010, Mario felt called to use his gifts to serve the church.
“I launched Array of Hope and immediately we started doing multimedia concerts in gyms and then it grew to college auditoriums and small theaters,” Mario said. “Although the inspiration was evangelical in nature, the events we produced are very Catholic. The Array of Hope concert event is a wide-ranging concert experience featuring live musical performances, multimedia displays, motivational speaking and inviting film presentations. to reflect and provide a joyful counterweight to the negative media that surrounds today’s society It especially celebrates appreciation for the family The key themes of the program are the importance of God in the family and the loving support that prayer can bring to the spiritual and emotional development of ourselves and our children. This is a perfect family event.”
And as its ministry has grown, Array of Hope has only deepened that unique Catholic identity.
This is clearly shown in his upcoming “Behold” events. The series includes live music, multimedia, and talks that draw people to Christ through worship. The three-night series will run in concert with the National Eucharistic Revival, focusing on a different theme each night: “The Eucharist and Healing,” “The Eucharist and Awe,” and “The Eucharist and Communion.”
Listening to Mario describe how Array of Hope balances the delicacy of worship with the wow effect of live performance, I asked him how the ministry strikes a balance between beauty and entertainment.
“I think entertainment is key to engaging the inquisitive viewer,” Mario said. “Array of Hope has always strived to bring people into a fold that is safe, fun and entertaining. And then we weave the teachings of the church into that environment. We start in the position of entertainment and after We reveal beauty. A lot of that happens through testimony. We partner with the Holy Spirit. We can only take them so far, and then the spirit takes over.”
Jack Garno, the director of audio and music production for Array of Hope, expanded on Mario’s sentiments and told me that the conversion that comes from this ministry is not just external, it is also internal.
“I grew up a cradle Catholic,” Jack said. “I was even an altar boy, but after a trauma in the church, I distanced myself.”
Years later, Jack met Mario and started playing guitar with Array of Hope. He noticed that everyone involved in the ministry seemed to glow with joy and love and wondered, “What do these people have that I don’t have?”
Through Jack’s involvement in creating music that evangelizes, he himself returned to the faith. These days he gets together with the band twice a week to write songs about the Gospel and, as he puts it so beautifully, “the truth that God is love.”
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