Final Hour
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Final Hour

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The best kept secret in music


"Christian Rockers to Play World Youth Day"

A group of Lancaster Catholic High School musicians thought it was pretty cool to have recorded their own compact disc. But the members of Final Hour, a contemporary Christian band composed of all teenagers and one adult, found out recently that the recording was just the start of their exciting adventure. The band, under the leadership of Thomas Fertal, director of spiritual life at Catholic High, will travel to Germany Aug. 16 to perform for World Youth Day alongside an array of professional bands. Fertal, who started the band three years ago to give students an opportunity to perform at carnivals and other public venues, said it is an honor to be selected to play for the annual event started by Pope John Paul II. “We’re going!” the excited Fertal said. More than a million people are expected to attend the gathering of young Catholics from around the world. This year, the event is being held in Cologne, Bonn and Duesseldorf, Germany. Amanda Burris, 16, a flutist and vocalist for the band, can’t believe they are going to perform at an international venue. “It’s amazing to go over. To see the Holy Father is amazing.” Chris Orzech, 17, who plays the keyboard and sings, said his grandfather loved the idea of World Youth Day. “He recently passed, so this is for him,” he said. Fertal, who saw the opportunity to perform for the event on a Web site, said he sent the group’s CD and an application in February or March 2004. “I thought our chance was small, so I didn’t tell anyone.” In February, he received a request for more information on the band. “Another teacher told me not to worry about the expenses, just to send the information.” Much to his surprise, the band was selected to play. Before the school year ended, the school’s entire student body was told the band would represent them in Germany. “It’s unbelievable,” said band manager Bernadette Strausbaugh, 18. “The fact that all of our hard work is acknowledged this way gives me chills. I can’t talk without getting emotional.” Strausbaugh, who graduated and is heading to Walsh University in the fall, is the backbone of the group, according to Burris. Her enthusiasm is evident each time the band gears up to play. Kevin Raubenstine, 18, drummer and guitarist, said this will be the final time he gets to play with Final Hour. “It’s a great opportunity to go to another country and spread the word.” Strausbaugh said recording the CD was a spontaneous thing that lead to the opportunity to play at World Youth Day. Bill Grabowski, uncle of band member David Grabowski and owner of Legit Sound recording studio in Brownstown, offered to help the band make the recording. “He helped us out a whole lot,” Burris said. “It was great of him to work with a bunch of students recording for the first time. It was a great experience and great fun,” she said. The band is now trying to raise the $30,000 needed to make the trek. But raise it or not, they are going, Fertal said. “The tickets had to be paid for and the hotel rooms had to be booked. I just melted my credit cards,” he said. “This is a culmination of three years of hard work. It shows the effort of our ministry.” The students said they practice over lunchtime and any time they can find to squeeze it in. In addition, each year, every spot in the band is up for grabs. Fertal said he holds auditions each spring for the next school year. Some of the band members have been playing for the entire three years and others are new to the music business. Those going to World Youth Day are the band members that were playing when the band was selected, he said. Many of them are graduates who will move on to college when they return. The students are writing letters to alumni and family and friends asking for donations. They are also selling their CDs and T-shirts. “We also get money from playing concerts,” he said. Elise Lomboy, 16, the band’s spunky lead singer, said the whole thing is overwhelming. “I always wanted to sing, so going to Germany is a big deal,” she said. “This is a huge honor, a dream come true.” - Lancaster Sunday News


Spirit Rising (Release 4/22/06)
Youthful Praise, Volume 1: Now is the Time ('04)


Feeling a bit camera shy


Final Hour is a ministry of Lancaster Catholic High School. Started 3 years ago, the band is high in demand - playing at the local, diocesan, and regional levels and beyond - including World Youth Day and the National Catholic Youth Conference!