31 May

Video: Tears Of Joy: Music Returns To Bishop Maginn

by Jon Katz

At 10 a.m. this morning, Sue Silverstein e-mailed me this short video and a message: “There is music in our school” I could hear the angels sing.

I’m not sure I was ever happier to write a post than I am this morning. Life is good and full of promise. Hallelujah.

We have brought music back to Bishop Maginn, a sign of  rebirth and renewal, and of the idea that we welcome and nurture refugee children, we don’t abandon or reject them.

I am not a religious person, but Bishop Maginn is where faith lives, and where the idea of reaching out to the needy and vulnerable lives. And is resurrected. This short video, sent to me by Mrs. Silverstein, the art and theology maven at the school, says it all.

I will confess to tearing up a bit when I saw it. I thought, did we really do this?

Are there really so many good people out there filled with grace and love? The answer is yes, they are the real news of America.

Thanks to the Army Of Good, music is lifting spirits at the school this morning, the refugee kids will soon be singing their songs to the world in the new choir being formed in the new music room with their new keyboard and choir director.

We – you, the Army Of Good –  supplied materials for the music room:chairs and stands, we found a brilliant choir director, sent boxes of music, paint and brushes for the new murals, and yesterday, an angel named Karen brought the music keyboard that was set up and christened this morning.

This brief but beautiful inauguration will lift up your heart.

(We have also raised tuition for two Pakistani twins so they can remain in the high school.)

Art supplies are wonderful, but there is something sweet and special about music, the spirit fades when it is gone, the spirit soars when it is present. It is the anthem of the soul sometimes.

Bishop Maginn has had a rough time, given the mess in the Catholic Church, the flight of many of its students to the suburbs, the poverty all around them, and the rapid decline in financial aid. The school has become a gentle and loving refuge for refugee children. It is a very important place.

Principal Mike Tolan and his teachers are spiriting a revival, the arts and music programs are coming back. They generously say its due to the Army Of Good, but I believe bigger forces are work, especially their empathy and generosity. I call it the Love School.

We are sure helping. Thanks for this moment, it is a landmark in our work. More to come. This is the right place for me to do my work and, I hope, for you to join me. The school has accepted my offer to teach a six-week writing course in the fall.

I’m very happy about it. The school could really use any kind of support  we can offer it. Donations are tax-deductible, and there are a lot of kids there without the funds for tuition.

The school doesn’t toss kids out, but any help with tuition would be appreciated. You can send your tax-deductible contributions to Mike Tolan, Principal, Bishop Maginn High School, 75 Park Avenue, Albany, N.Y., 12202. The money goes exactly where it is supposed to go, the school is transparent in every way.

This work feels patriotic to me, we are fighting for the American Dream. Thanks.

(Check out our new podcast here)


  1. Music is the universal language. Of love and healing. This is supremely beautiful.

    I have found the groups where many people offer small amounts get things done in the most meaningful ways to me. I don’t want to pay for a bloated salary for an executive hand-shaker.

    This just made my day. Thank you Jon, Maria and AOG.

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