Singing for God: St Francis of Assisi parishioner Carmen Rosa sings for God’s glory
Legitimate opportunities of fame and fortune came Carmen Rosa's way at a young age courtesy of her beautiful voice, obvious talent, and engaging personality.
Instead, she chose a path of glorifying God and Christian outreach.
“She's got a gift, which she uses to serve the Lord,” Carmen Rosa's husband, Allan Forastieri said. “She won an audition years ago in Puerto Rico and they wanted to put her with a record company, turn her into a pop star. But she said, 'No. I only sing for the Lord.'”
Carmen Rosa went on to record four CDs of original Catholic music and to sing at more than 600 parishes and Church events on five continents.
The couple, who now call Grapevine home and attend St. Francis of Assisi Church, both grew up in Puerto Rico.
Music, Carmen Rosa said, provided a passion and calling early on.
“My father is a singer and has a ministry,” Carmen Rosa said. “He used to sing at funerals and church events, so I learned to sing at church too. I started taking guitar lessons when I was 7 or 8 and my father would take me with him to his presentations.”
A radio program Carmen Rosa's parents hosted brought her and Forastieri together.
“A Saturday program where they prayed the Rosary for people who were sick or in need,” Forastieri said. “A deacon at my parish invited me to volunteer for the program and so I did.”
Forastieri joked that his interest in Carmen Rosa predated the couple's first actual meeting.
“One Saturday, during a commercial break on the radio program, her mother showed me a picture of Carmen and I just blurted out, 'Oh my Lord. How beautiful.' And I was so embarrassed right away that I'd said that.”
Several Saturdays later, Carmen Rosa's parents left Forastieri in charge of answering prayer requests on the phone so they could attend a prison ministry event. Carmen Rosa called asking for her parents but got Forastieri instead.
“I asked if she was the girl from the picture and told her I'd always wanted to meet her,” Forastieri said.
Not long after, the couple finally met during a prayer group for a man suffering with cancer.
“We went and kneeled before God and asked if this attraction was coming from Him,” Forastieri said. “Because if it wasn't, we didn't want it. But He let us know.”
Offering gifts to God
By 2008, Carmen Rosa felt called to sing and record music for God despite having no real idea how to make that happen.
“[I] prayed that, if you want me to record, give me inspiration, music, and lyrics,” Carmen Rosa said. “I'm just your humble instrument.”
A Catholic radio station in Florida subsequently asked Carmen Rosa to contribute a song for a CD featuring Catholic musicians from various countries. That provided funding for Carmen Rosa to record her own CD.
Unfortunately, downsizing cost Forastieri his job about that time and, with no money coming in, he soon fell behind on his truck payments.
“I lived out in farmland,” Forastieri said. “No public transportation so, without my truck, how can I get another job? We had to decide, do we use this money to pay for my pickup, or for what the Lord wanted Carmen to do, to sing for Him?”
Forastieri turned his truck over to the bank. Shortly after, a priest invited Carmen Rosa to sing at his parish followed by another priest at another parish. Offers soon poured in from around the world.
“If I would've used that money for the truck, none of this would've happened,” Forastieri said. “Instead the Lord took us around the world.”
World travel, while wonderful, is hardly the point, both said, nor is self-glory.
“I want to sing for the Lord forever,” Carmen Rosa said. “I prefer to see people cry, feel something, or meditate rather than clapping for me. I want them touched by the Lord, understanding and living the message of the songs.”
Carmen Rosa marvels at the universality of music. Although she recently recorded a song in English and plans to do more, the majority are sung in Spanish. Non-Spanish speaking attendees from around the world seem to get the message all the same in part because of Carmen Rosa's faithful conviction as well as clear, inviting, comforting, and melodic voice.
Miracles abound, both said, referring to Carmen Rosa's devotion to the Virgin Mary. Hampering an invitation to sing at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City were a lack of funds, passport complications, and a bout of asthma that temporarily robbed Carmen Rosa of her singing voice. A series of airline flights booked on faith and kind acts from strangers played out an improbable mix of miracles and Keystone Cops antics but landed Carmen Rosa in Mexico where she performed and shined, performing in the spot before international star singer Lucero.
“It was a glorious adventure,” Carmen Rosa said.
There homeless, abandoned, and overlooked children, many living in garbage dumps, caught the couple's hearts. They subsequently adopted one as their daughter and established a charity to feed, clothe, and educate similar children in Mexico and other countries.
In the planning, an EWTN radio show “Generation Guadalupe,” which will address Eucharistic revival, stressing Christ's true presence in the Eucharist and lead up to 2031's 500th anniversary of the Virgin Mary's 1531 appearance in Guadalupe, Mexico.
Carmen Rosa and Forastieri will serve as co-hosts with “Hoy es tu Gran Dia” radio host Carlos Canseco.
“They bring joy and a beautiful testimony,” Canseco said of Carmen Rosa and Forastieri. “She has tremendous talent but carries herself with grace and humility to serve God instead of her own interests. Her music and their works are transmitting God's love and mission.”
One child in particular assisted by their charity dreams of becoming a priest, Forastieri said.
“If it's God's will that this formerly invisible, homeless child who was living in a garbage dump were to become a priest, how awesome would that be?” Forastieri said.
“One who can bring us through his own hands Jesus Himself in the Eucharist.”