Tell us a bit about what you have been doing since 8th grade…
After my time at St. Joe’s, I attended Rice Lake High School and then a small Catholic college (Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH), for my Bachelor of Arts degrees in Theology & Catechetics. I had a youth ministry concentration and intended to work in ministry in some way; the Lord exceeded my expectations by taking that foundation and slightly altering the course my life was on.
My senior year at Franciscan, I was encouraged to record my original music and I initially turned down the opportunity. Since childhood, I had loved singing but suppressed my desire to pursue music because I felt others deserved that chance more than me. However, the Lord started poking at that desire of my heart—scripture tells us “Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). He placed a desire for music in me, and He never places a desire in our hearts that He does not plan to fulfill. In small ways throughout my time at St. Joe’s, in high school and into my adult years, the Lord was working and helping me hone in on the gifts He has given me. Anytime He gives us gifts, He expects us to use them—it brings Him even more joy than it brings us. So finally, after praying about it and realizing He was nudging me in that direction, I agreed to record my original music. The response surprised me; I graduated and began working in college campus ministry with Fr. Mike Schmitz in Duluth, MN as well as a middle school youth ministry position at the Duluth Cathedral. Meanwhile, I was receiving inquiries to come sing and speak at various parishes around the country.
One day, I was driving along and got a phone call from Jeff Cavins, the famous Bible Scholar. I was so shocked I thought about letting it go to voicemail! But then I thought, That’s ridiculous, Aly, just pick up! I answered the phone and Jeff began saying the kindest things about my music. My dad and I had been on one of his pilgrimages to the Holy Land my senior year of high school which changed my life, and apparently after releasing my first album my dad had sent it to Jeff without my knowledge. I was embarrassed but also so honored that a man I respected so much believed in my music. Jeff invited me to be the worship leader on his pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and was instrumental in giving my music exposure. Since then, I have recorded more music and traveled around the USA and Israel performing my original music and leading worship. I transitioned into my full-time music & speaking ministry in 2017; I continue to provide music for the Diocese of Duluth and the ministry of Fr. Mike Schmitz as well as tour nationally with my original music. I am also hired to give presentations on the faith to all age groups–some of my favorite topics to speak on are The Eucharist, Theology of the Body, and “What’s Your Gift (How to Discern & Utilize the Gifts God Gave You)”. I currently have two full albums (and another coming soon!) as well as a number of singles, all of which are available on all online streaming platforms, with hard copies on my website and at live events.
I absolutely love this work because it not only fulfills my heart’s desire, but it is also meaningful–I get to share how incredibly good God is in my speaking presentations, and I’m always blown away when people share with me how my music moves them and speaks to something going on in their lives. Isaiah 61:1-3 has become my mission statement for my music and speaking ministry:
“The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn.”
This is the mission of every Christian, to use our gifts to bring joy and blessing to everyone we can reach. I’m so grateful that He has called me to participate in His mission work in this way.
What is your greatest professional accomplishment?
In 2016 after the release of my second album “The Labyrinth,” my band and I performed at our first Christian Music Festival in Philadelphia for a crowd of over 3500. After our set, we received the “Emerging Artist Award” sponsored by Jeff Cavins and Relevant Radio. But honestly, every day I feel more and more honored that my music is being received so well, and every time I play a show for a music festival, lead worship in the Holy Land, or provide music and speaking for a parish, I feel beyond blessed. Personally, I feel my most important accomplishment is to write songs that truly connect with people, especially when my music can help facilitate healing. Many people have shared with me how my songs “The Labyrinth” or “Psalm 127” in particular have helped them through difficult times in their lives, giving them hope when they or someone they know are suffering with cancer, a broken relationship, whatever it may be. To me, that is my greatest professional accomplishment–and I know it’s ultimately not me but the Lord who is accomplishing this beautiful work.
Did you have a favorite subject or teacher at St. Joseph Catholic School? / Favorite Memory at St. Joseph?
Some of my fondest memories are from 4th Grade with Mrs. Martwick. I have always been fascinated by language, stories and art (which may be a contributing factor to my songwriting), and I believe she really gave that desire in me room to grow. In particular, I loved that she would carve out time for the class to simply listen to her read chapter books aloud. I think back to that time in awe that she could captivate a room of energetic 4th graders simply by reading. Listening to her read those stories allowed my imagination to grow and I learned the power that beautifully composed words could have over the listener. Some of my favorite books she read to us were Robinson Crusoe, The True Story of Pinocchio, The Westing Games….She also had such fun group projects for us to do. One time we built castles out of cardboard and if I remember correctly, even capatpaults. Another time, we dissected owl pellets after reading a story where the main characters were mice and owls. I had so much fun that year!
Any advice for current students to make the most of their experience at St. Joseph?
President Teddy Roosevelt once said “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I learned this too late in life—don’t waste time and energy suppressing your gifts because you’re worried about what other people will think or that others will be better than you. There will always be somebody better than you at everything you try! But nobody can do those things in the same unique way you can, with your heart—so if you fail, fail miserably, and grin from ear to ear knowing you’ve given it your all. Your value is not rooted in how well you can achieve your goals, or how famous you might become—your value is rooted in your identity as a beloved child of God and He wants you to live life to the full, focusing on loving others (and yourself) to the brim. So live fully alive with the joy and love of Christ and give others permission to do the same! Life is just better that way. I’m praying for you!