Inspiring Musician to Perform at Holy Name Parish

Tony Melendez, a singer and guitarist born without arms, performs during a Marian devotion at the "Convocation of Catholic Leaders: The Joy of the Gospel in America" July 1 in Orlando, Fla. Leaders from dioceses and various Catholic organizations are gathering for the July 1-4 convocation. (CNS photo/Bob Roller) See CONVOCATION-OPENING-MASS July 1, 2017.

By Tony DeGol

A man regarded as a global ambassador of hope is bringing his talent and inspiration to the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown.

Tony Melendez is a world-renowned musician, author, and motivational speaker with a unique story.

His mother took thalidomide when she was pregnant, which caused him to be born without arms.

Despite that challenge, Melendez learned to play the guitar using his feet.

His amazing skills have led him to perform around the world, including an unforgettable moment when he played guitar and sang for Pope John Paull II in 1987 in Los Angeles.   

Father Brian Warchola, Pastor of Holy Name Parish in Ebensburg, first crossed paths with the musician in 2006 when Melendez played at a Mass at the March for Life in Washington, D.C.

“I remember being captivated by what he was doing,” Father Warchola said.

Recently, Father Warchola decided to reach out to Melendez and extend an invitation to perform at Holy Name.

The concert is scheduled for January 21 at 7:00 p.m. at the church.

“I think it’s something to lift up our hearts,” Father Warchola commented. “This will give us hope.”

The concert is free and open to everyone. A free-will offering will be accepted.

Earlier in the day, Melendez will perform privately for Catholic school students in the diocese.

No matter one’s age, Father Warchola believes everyone will be moved by seeing Melendez in person when he comes to Altoona-Johnstown.

“It’s something that can lift people’s spirits and make them joyful and give them the opportunity to see nothing is impossible for Almighty God,” he stated. “God works miracles, and He can take any individual and work many marvelous feats through them. Tony is a prime example of somebody who has taken that great gift from Almighty God and been able to inspire millions of people.”