Pastor uses website to evangelize and share music project

A screen shot from www.kickstarter.com shows the number of backers and money raised for Father Kent O’Connor’s “Jesus” album as of April 15.
A screen shot from www.kickstarter.com shows the number of backers and money raised for Father Kent O’Connor’s “Jesus” album as of April 15.

by Jessica Langdon
jessica.langdon@theleaven.org

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Father Kent O’Connor has someone he’d like you to meet.

And he’ll handle the introductions.

All you have to do to get to know Jesus through Father O’Connor is kick-start the meeting with a few keystrokes and a couple clicks of the mouse.

Music has always been a passion of the Topeka native.

Now, through a music project on the Kickstarter website, the pastor of Our Lady of Unity Parish in Kansas City, Kan., hopes to deliver God to people in a way that will click with them.

He has taken his work on his latest project — a forthcoming 11-track CD entitled “Jesus” — online for the Easter season.

“What I want people to do when they hear my music is to say, ‘Huh, I’ve never quite thought about it like that before,’ or ‘I’ve never thought about Jesus in that way before, and I’d like to think about that some more. I’d like to take that into prayer,’” said Father O’Connor.

The music can be found online by searching “Fr. Kent O’Connor” at: www.kickstarter.com.

Then, if visitors to the site like what they read in his reflections and hear in samples of his songs, they can pledge to help back the album production financially.

But there’s a bit of a catch.

All or nothing

Kickstarter is what Father O’Connor describes as a “crowd-funding” endeavor, in which people who visit the site help promote the artists in their efforts.

And the artists — like Father O’Connor — have to reach their goals within a certain amount of time.

If they meet or exceed their goal by the deadline, the backers’ credit cards are charged (payments are handled through Amazon) and the artists get the funding once the campaign ends.

If not?

“I don’t get anything,” said Father O’Connor.

As much as he’d like to hit his goal of $4,000 in pledges by May 19 — Pentecost — to help offset the costs of CD production, he wants even more to have people join him in his spiritual journey through the Easter season.

“It’s a method of evangelization for me,” he said.

Some people experience a sort of “spiritual downer” after Lent ends, and Father O’Connor sees this project as a spiritual boost to keep people traveling on a path with Jesus through Pentecost.

“I would be happy if you would simply walk with me over the course of these 50 days as I talk about this person I know named Jesus,” he tells visitors to the site.

His ultimate goal for both the album, which he expects to be available in August, and for the Kickstarter project is to offer a “better understanding of who Jesus is.”

Music and faith

“Jesus” will be Father O’Connor’s third album. He wrote most of the songs himself, and sings and plays the piano, guitar, harmonica and ukulele on the album. He describes his musical style as a mix of folk, pop and rock.

A couple of weeks into his Kickstarter project, more than 30 backers had already pledged nearly $3,000.

Msgr. Charles McGlinn, pastor of Curé of Ars Parish in Leawood, was one of the contributors.

Although unfamiliar with Kickstarter when an email alerted him to Father O’Connor’s project, he was more than familiar with the latter’s talent — Father O’Connor had spent four years as his associate pastor at Curé when he was first ordained.

So Msgr. McGlinn visited the Kickstarter page just before Divine Mercy Sunday and liked the sample he heard related to the feast.

“It’s sort of a homily in music and very uplifting,” he said.
Father O’Connor is working with producer David C. Smith at Icon Studio Productions on the album.

“My goal of $4,000 does not cover the cost of the album by a long shot,” he said. “However, it seemed to me like an attainable goal, and it would be a significant help to cover the costs of the album.”

And if he exceeds it?

“If I go over my goal, rest assured that all money will be used for this album and for supporting my music ministry,” he promised. “I won’t use it to buy vestments or anything.”


Time is running out

Again, you can listen to some samples of songs that will appear on Father O’Connor’s upcoming “Jesus” album by visiting the Kickstarter website at: www.kickstarter.com. Just search for “Fr. Kent O’Connor.”

The site offers a number of different pledging options. But remember, there are only 30 days left to help Father O’Connor reach his goal.

You can also find more information about Father O’Connor and his music online at his website: www.frkent.com.

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