Fr. Charles Mangano & Laurie Mangano
It was while on pilgrimage in 1984 that Fr. Charles Mangano's life was changed forever - and when he decided to become a priest. A senior in college, he had an incredible experience of our Lady. He felt her presence in his heart, telling him to "stop all your running, stop being so anxious and let me prove your vocation to you." In awe, he knew he had to apply for the seminary with the confidence that Mary was going to show him the way.
Not only did he go on to become ordained as a priest, but it was this first, and subsequent, awe-inspiring experiences of the Virgin Mary that allowed him to spread God's word in yet another way: through his gift of music. Knowing that he loved to sing, and wanting to start a music ministry as a way to both evangelize and to help others, he often sought the guidance of the Blessed Virgin Mary. More than a decade later, Father Charles felt in his heart our Lady saying, "Jesus wants you to dedicate the music ministry to me - that I will be the one to guide you." It was then that Father Charles knew that his just-formed music ministry would be known as Mater Dei - or, Mother of God.
Although the Mater Dei Music Ministry was officially formed as a corporation after this experience, the story behind Mater Dei actually began decades earlier - during the childhood of both Father Charles and his sister, Laurie. As children, the brother and sister knew that they loved to sing . . . and, as teenagers, realized that this love of singing was a gift from God. After years of singing together at church functions, ceremonies and family gatherings, Father Charles and Laurie discovered that not only had God given them this gift of music, but there was so much good they could do in spreading God's word through song and prayer, and helping all of God's people gain a renewed sense of faith.
After being ordained a Roman Catholic Priest in 1990, and with the encouragement and support of his parishioners, family and friends, Father Charles began recording albums - with the goal of bringing people closer to God through his music, and to aid them in their journey towards wholeness and salvation. After the enthusiastic response to his first album, parishioners soon requested a second album. Knowing that Laurie shared his gift, as well as the desire to sing for God, he approached his sister with the idea of developing a music ministry. At that time, Laurie was a wife, mother and successful model (gracing the pages of the New York Times and Modern Bride) . . . who also years earlier had a budding solo pop music career. However, although she enjoyed performing pop music, she felt unfulfilled, and she preferred singing songs with meaning and purpose, as those she sang in church for God. Singing with her brother, and singing for God, would give purpose to her song...and she knew she, too, had found her true calling when she accepted Father Charles' offer to join him in his music ministry and apostolic work.
For more than 20 years, the brother and sister with the gift of both song and prayer have brought strength, inspiration -- and hope -- to so many people through their spiritual Contemporary Christian music. Mater Dei has gained a strong following through the years -- with 11 CDs, DVDs, and sold out performances -- including their "Nights of Recollection" at local parishes to sold-out concerts at the Tilles Center for the Performing Arts, Avery Fisher Hall and Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center and Westbury Music Fair (now known as The Theatre at Westbury), as well as internationally. In addition, they have completed many seasons as hosts of their own television show, a program of faith, sharing, music and prayer on Long Island's Telecare Network and Brooklyn/Manhattan's The Prayer Channel. In addition, they have donated over $370,000 to local charities.