Tony Melendez, the armless guitar player who gave ovation-producing performances before the late Pope John Paul II, will return to Modesto, Calif., on Saturday for a concert at Modesto Centre Plaza.
The musician, who plays the guitar with his toes, will be joined by Jorge Rivera, a musician and Latino youth leader from the archdiocese of Chicago. The concert is affiliated with the Stockton Diocese's 25th annual Catholic Hispanic Youth and Young Adults Congress this weekend. Melendez was the highlight of last year's event.
The concert is open to anyone and costs $10 per person.
The two-day conference carries the theme "Ever Young in Christ" and offers two tracks: a bilingual one for teens and a Spanish one for young adults. Bishop Stephen Blaire will celebrate Mass on Sunday. Sessions run from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day and include guest speakers, testimonies, drama and music.
About 1,000 participants are expected for the event, which will include talks on the importance of education, sexual purity and vocational discernment. The cost is $5 per day.
Melendez rose to fame in September 1987 when he played his guitar for Pope John Paul II in Los Angeles. The musician was born without arms because his mother was prescribed thalidomide, a drug used for morning sickness, before it was discovered that the drug caused serious birth defects.
The native Nicaraguan wore prosthetic arms as a child, but discarded them at age 10 because "I could use my feet so much more." He became active in the Catholic Church as a teenager.
Rivera's genre is contemporary Latin/pop-styled music. His most recent recording, released in 2006, is "Reinventando el Amor" (Reinventing Love), taken from the words of St. Vincent DePaul: "Love is infinitely inventive."
He has performed in Italy, Mexico and Canada, as well as in several U.S. cities.
The 2012 "Congreso Juvenil" will be held 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Modesto Centre Plaza, 1000 L St. Cost: $5 per day; register at the door. Concert, 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday; tickets $10 from (209) 466-0636, ext. 632, or at the door.
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