St. Leo the Great's traditional Lenten Friday night fish fry will be extra special in March when Bob Halligan and members of the Celtic band Ceili Rain come to the Amherst church for a night of music and talk. This special event will take place Friday, March 9, with fish being served from 5-7 p.m. Stations of the Cross take place at 7 p.m. Halligan will give a talk about his experiences being adopted and adopting a child himself.
"Talk is probably a funny word for it, because I'll be talking with people, rather than at them, sharing my joy and gratitude for having the chance to be on the planet and having all the wonderful business and familial opportunities that have come my way," Halligan said. "I'm one of those people who drives down the road and keeps saying, 'Thank you, Lord, thank you,' for miscellaneous stuff, whatever is across my path."
Adopted at two months from Our Lady of Victory Infant Home in Lackawanna, Halligan has no memories of being there as an infant, but did visit about 18 years ago, when he came to town to perform.
"I think I was in town to play at Kingdom Bound with Ceili Rain and Father Bill (Quinlivan) arranged to bring me over to Our Lady of Victory. It was emotional. It was exciting," he said.
Halligan, who has written songs for Cher, Michael Bolton and Kathy Mattea, has worked his personal experiences with adoption into a couple of his songs. "God Done Good" addresses the Lord's plan to bring him his son Liam. "A-D-O-P-TION" is about himself and the act of adoption being an alternative to abortion.
Halligan, along with two other members of Ceili Rain, will join the fish fry for a song or two. Father William Quinlivan, pastor of St. Martin of Tours and St. Thomas Aquinas parishes in South Buffalo, will lead Stations of the Cross, using PowerPoint and photos of the Stations from Our Lady of Victory Basilica in Lackawanna.
This year during Lent, St. Leo's has invited different parish groups to present the Stations of the Cross, each with its own unique theme. One week will focus on children, another will be for seniors.
"Every week has a different approach," explained Msgr. Robert E. Zapfel, pastor of St. Leo's. "It's part of a prayerful presentation of the Stations of the Cross. We have a different theme each week, a different organization is doing the Stations of the Cross to provide some diversity and to appeal to many different tastes and many different spiritualities throughout the season of Lent."
Msgr. Zapfel thinks Halligan's story of adoption fits in well with the Easter season.
"Easter's all about new life," he said. "One of the best ways people can share new life is by welcoming a child into their home. We thought that it was important to emphasize that there are a number of children who need a good home, or need a big sister or big brother to take care of a generation that is often very fragile."
St. Martin of Tours and St. Thomas Aquinas churches in South Buffalo are co-sponsoring a concert with Halligan and Ceili Rain on Saturday, March 10, at 7 p.m. at the Buffalo Irish Center, 245 Abbott Road. Opening for Ceili Rain will be the Celtic duo Kindred.
Halligan promises a lot of festive uplifting music featuring Irish fiddle, drums and Halligan on keyboards playing bass and piano.
"I'm already getting email requests for particular songs of ours. To some extent the set list will be determined by what people want to hear," he said.
A free will offering will be accepted at St. Leo's. Tickets to Saturday's Irish Center concert are $15.