Toronto Catholic artists express culture of life

January 23, 2012

TORONTO – Musician Susan HooKong-Taylor is doing everything she can in her music ministry to build up the body of Christ.

One way is through a Catholic arts initiative called The Beads.

"The Beads is an initiative that allows people to connect and then to express, to experience and to share a culture of life through the arts," HooKong-Taylor said in an interview.

"The idea is getting people together in a comfortable environment where we can . . . enjoy some music or hear from a writer, maybe see some visual art. It's kind of a flushing out of Catholic culture."

The name itself came about from HooKong-Taylor's devotion to Our Lady.

"I realized that as Catholic artists we gaze on the face of Christ through the eyes of Mary and we reflect on the life of Christ through the heart of Mary, which is the activity of the holy rosary," she said.

Founded by HooKong-Taylor in 2004, The Beads has found a new home at The Family Treehouse Café in Scarborough. The café supports the culture of life by donating all proceeds to Church-run charities in Toronto and Jamaica.

Past performers at The Beads include the Franciscan Friars of Renewal, Julie Leahy (a relative of the musical group Leahy) and Michael O'Brien. The event takes place every two months.

HooKong-Taylor is no stranger to performing herself. She has dedicated her life to music.

Co-founder of a record company with musician Ana Da Costa, their music is "inspirational and spiritual," she said. They've done praise and worship music, Marian music and devotional music like the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

The duo also co-wrote the Song of the Cross for World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto and HooKong-Taylor was the English lead for the WYD theme song Light of the World.

HooKong-Taylor hopes different ideas come forward for The Beads, including evenings for both poets and songwriters.

She has plenty on her plate, but she references the parable of the talents, saying, "When you've been given a lot, there's a lot expected of you."