rusch-tracyTracy Rusch, co-editor of myfaithI was among nearly 1,000 people at the Wisconsin Right to Life Concert for Life at Elmbrook Church in Brookfield on Friday, Jan. 11, commemorating the more than 55 million lives lost since the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 made abortion legal in every state.

The solemn atmosphere created by the statistic was brightened when country music star and pro-life advocate Collin Raye took the stage, belting out lyrics to “Little Rock” and “That’s My Story,” a few church hymns and new songs, including “Undefeated,” one of my favorites from his 2011 album, “His Love Remains.”

Bright lights flashed through the fog on stage again when Grammy-nominated Christian rock band Sanctus Real took over, even performing an unreleased song, “Pray,” for the first time. It will be included in their new album, “Run,” set to be released on Feb. 5. Waiting to get that on iTunes will feel like forever.

Their musical messages at Friday’s concert were the same: Life is sacred.

Sanctus Real lead vocalist Matt Hammitt knows that. His son Bowen was born with a rare congenital heart defect called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome – the left half of his heart was severely underdeveloped and the singer and his wife thought they were going to lose him, but he’s 2 now.

Collin Raye knows, too, from his 10-year-old granddaughter, Haley’s, tragic death from an undiagnosed neurological disorder in 2010. I talked with him in October, 2011 about how his faith helped cope.CollinRayeCountry music artist Collin Raye took time to meet the Rusch family after the Wisconsin Right to Life Concert for Life at Elmbrook Church in Brookfield on Friday, Jan. 11. Pictured, left to right, Ally and Mary Rusch, Collin Raye, Tracy Rusch, and Tracy’s parents, Deb and Dan Rusch. (Submitted photo courtesy Dan Rusch)

I remembered that he said he’d love to meet me if he was ever in Milwaukee – and he was true to his word.

We were escorted backstage where he welcomed us with big hugs, talked about the nasty flu – he had it too, the Packers, and losing his granddaughter when talking about the loss of a loved one in our family.

His faith carries him; ours will too.

Known for his country pop, Raye has achieved a lot of success in the secular world – he’s a 10-time Country Music Male Vocalist of the Year Nominee who has sold 9 million records, and charted 16 number 1 country hits through the 90s.

But Raye has chosen to go against the secular grain, using his talent to spread a message of faith and support causes like Wisconsin Right to Life. Even Raye’s latest album, and his first Christian CD, “His Love Remains,” was Amazon’s number one reviewed Christian CD in 2012 with 161 five-star reviews.

Fame and all, religion is still an important part of Raye’s life. He converted to Catholicism from his Baptist roots at age 23.

But that’s not true for an increasing number of adults in the U.S., according to a study that found almost one in five adults, and one-third of adults under age 30, consider themselves religiously unaffiliated. Read about it in “‘Nones’ on the rise,” and “Got religion: One in 3 young people do not.”

Whether or not you’re practicing your faith, join us in saying Happy Birthday, myfaith! For five years, myfaith stories have covered all types of topics that meet you where you’re at on your spiritual and life journeys, from finding love online to why the church says cohabitation and pre-marital sex are wrong to getting tattoos. To celebrate, we’re giving this 5-year-old a fresh look with the April 25 issue, where we’ll share the faith stories of post 9/11 war veterans – email me at if you know young, Catholic veterans willing to share their stories.

Happy New Year!