Musicians perform at an Array of Hope event. Left to right, 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 Array of Hope/Jeffrey Bruno)
I first met Mario Costabile, executive director of Array of Hope, a few months ago while interviewing him on CatholicTV. My producers gave me a quick overview of the hit movie and music producer and, impressed, I did a Google search on him myself.
After reading about his 40 years of experience producing programs for MTV, Discovery Channel, Yamaha, Sony and more, I was a bit nervous about meeting and interviewing him. It may be an unpopular opinion, but I think that when an individual has reached a high level of success, it is perfectly reasonable for him to be a little demanding of those around him. Sure, they might be tough on their team or their rookie interviewer (me), but that wouldn’t be half as tough as they are on themselves.
I entered the interview with a clear understanding of my role as “The Little Guy,” determined to keep my head down and focused. To my surprise, I was immediately greeted with a smile and a handshake that didn’t even mention the world of differences between our stations in the media world. Mario’s kindness and warmth radiated directly onto our set and into the living rooms of our viewers. He was a hit not only with the film crew and myself, but with everyone his interview touched.
Mario Costabile (Courtesy of Array of Hope/Jeffrey Bruno)
And so, when the opportunity arose to interview Mario again, about his ministry, Table of hopeI 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 he described the creation of his ministry (a source for contemporary Christian music, films and events) in 2010.
“It was started 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 group in Nashville. I was hanging out with a lot of Christian artists and producers there, including Casting Crowns, Chris Tomlin and Amy Grant. I was blown away by the quality of their work. and their ability to transmit the faith in an exciting way.”
I found myself nodding as he described how to learn from our Christian brothers and sisters. I asked him if he thought 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 succeeded,” he said. “I had a great career, marriage and children, but I still felt a nostalgia. … Something was missing and a real sense of fulfillment was not there yet. I see now that God was preparing me in my secular career for this. 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 ever dream of, yet it wasn’t even the beginning for him.
In 2010, Mario felt a call to use his gifts to serve the church.
“I started Array of Hope and we immediately started doing multi-media concerts in gymnasiums, and then it expanded into college auditoriums and small theaters,” Mario said. “Although the inspiration is evangelical in nature, the events we produce are very Catholic. The Array of Hope concert event is a large-scale concert experience that features live musical performances, multimedia presentations, talks motivational and thought-provoking film presentations that cheerfully offer a counterweight to the negative media that surrounds today’s society. Above all, it celebrates an appreciation for family. The show’s key themes are the importance of God in the family and the loving support that prayer can bring to the spiritual and emotional development of us and our children. It is a perfect family event.”
And as his ministry has grown, Array of Hope has only delved deeper into this unique Catholic identity.
This is clearly displayed in their next “See“. The series features live music, multimedia and talks that draw people to Christ through worship. The three-night series will run in sync with the National Eucharistic Revival, centered around a different theme each evening: “The Eucharist and healing, “The Eucharist and fear” and “The Eucharist and communion”.
Listening to Mario describe how Array of Hope balances the delicacy of adoration with the wham effect of live performance, I asked him how the ministry strikes a balance between beauty and entertainment.
“I think entertainment is key to attracting the curious viewer,” Mario said. “Array of Hope has always made an effort to bring people into a safe, fun, and entertaining environment. And then we weave church teaching into that environment. We start in the entertainment position and then we reveal beauty. A lot of that comes through witnessing. We associate with the Holy Spirit. We can only take them so far and then the spirit takes over.”
Jack Garno, the audio and music production manager at Array of Hope, reinforced Mario’s feelings, telling me that the conversion that comes from this ministry is not just external, it’s also internal.
“I grew up in a Catholic cradle,” Jack said. “I was even a mass server but after a trauma in the church, I distanced myself.”
Years later, Jack meets Mario and begins playing guitar with Array of Hope. He noticed that everyone involved in the ministry seemed to radiate 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 was brought back to faith. These days, he meets with the group twice a week to write songs about the Gospel and, as he puts it, “the truth that God is love”.