After George Worthen found out he’d be playing with Matt Maher at multiple venues for World Youth Day 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, his head was spinning. “I was on a top bunk with only about 1.5 feet of headroom when I found out I’d be playing with Matt Maher, and I was so excited when I got his email that I jumped up and smoked my face on the roof,” he said. “It was pretty bad and I was sore for the rest of the day.”
For the young Med student from Dal the pain of his face injury was quickly numbed by the realization that he would be playing in front of crowds as large as 300,000 with his favourite Catholic artist.
“I still don’t understand why he (Maher) didn’t have a bass player, but from what I was told his long-term bass player left the group about six months before World Youth Day, and so Matt Maher’s stage manager had been playing bass for the last six months. Then, the regular electric guitar player’s wife had a baby a little sooner than expected, and he couldn’t go to Brazil. The stage manager shifted from bass to electric guitar and so they needed a bass player.”
“I was really impressed with George; he stepped up for us big time, and is a very talented musician. I also enjoyed spending some time with the CCO group. Their faith-filled enthusiasm is contagious.” – Matt Maher
Maher, who knew CCO President Jeff Lockert, sent Lockert an email asking if there were any students on CCO’s mission team that could play bass. As it happened, Worthen (who had been playing since he was 12) fit the bill, and got to play with the band at four different locations over five days. “It was pretty cool, it was humbling for sure,” he said “I got to play with Matt four times, and basically I spent from Monday to Friday with the band for the whole time. It was cool to experience what it was like to be on the road. The downtime, the sound checks, the problems with the schedule that led to us being late to a show.”
Worthen, a Halifax native, had been involved with CCO during his undergrad, serving on the student executive at Dalhousie and on IMPACT! Halifax (CCO’s 2012 summer mission trip). He attributes his time with CCO in helping him foster his leadership abilities, and said he had a profound re-awakening of his faith while in Rio.
“Prior to the trip, my faith was a little dry, and on the first day we had a Holy Spirit prayer night where I said to God ‘I know that You love me, but can You show me again that You love me?” A few nights later, Worthen found himself a few feet from Pope Francis, just about to live out a dream of playing in front of 300,000 Catholics with Matt Maher after the Pope finished his teaching session. “When I was standing there, I remembered that prayer and it was a very emotional moment for me.”
Worthen explained that his years of experience with CCO, combined with his high-profile on mission, made him realize how much he had grown in leadership. “Something I was brought face to face with is how much I’ve ben able to grow in leadership. From being a first-year student, and looking up to other people, to finding myself as a co-team leader and worship leader during the mission.”
by Jeff Graham (special re-post from Grapevine Fall 2013 – 25th Anniversary edition)