The Spirit’s song: Burlington woman composes National Eucharistic Congress theme song

Amy Mahoney
Diane Mahoney holds a copy of her original musical composition, “We Do Believe, O Lord (Help Our Unbelief),” at her home in Burlington. The U.S. bishops selected the piece as the theme song for next year’s National Eucharistic Congress.

By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger

The U.S. bishops have selected a Burlington woman’s musical composition, “We Do Believe, O Lord (Help Our Unbelief),” as the theme song for next year’s National Eucharistic Congress.

Diane Mahoney bested more than 175 composers in the Eucharistic Revival Music Competition. She will have the honor of hearing her song performed at the 2024 National Eucharistic Congress in Indianapolis — the first in 83 years — and the song will be used in liturgies and events surrounding the Eucharistic Revival across the country.

She finds news of the honor hard to believe. “We have so many wonderful musicians in our midst. …I don’t feel I’m in those ranks, but I guess God made it possible.”


The musician – a wife, mother and grandmother — has been active in music ministry at Divine Mercy Parish in Burlington for nearly 30 years. She has composed and arranged music for children and adult choirs for most of her life but never pursued a career as a songwriter. About five years ago, she felt compelled to create a piece inspired by the words of the distraught father from Mark’s Gospel. Efforts to finish the piece, by her standards, fell flat. “I threw away a lot of versions of it,” she admitted.

After reading an article about the music competition in The Catholic Messenger earlier this year, Diane knew it was time to finish the song. “It took that deadline to make me finally get it together,” she said. “I think the Holy Spirit just kind of gave me that nudge: ‘You have these ideas, now it’s time to use them.’”

Diane put pencil to staff paper and began crafting words and music for voice, piano/organ and flute. The refrain focused on what Catholics “behold” during the Eucharist: the holy body of Christ and the sacred blood of Christ.

Though she composed the piece alone, Diane felt God’s presence throughout the process. She felt inspired to superimpose the chant tune “Adoro Te Devote” over the melody of the refrain near the end of the writing process. “It’s usually used as a Communion hymn in Latin or English (Thee we adore, O hidden Savior). I wondered how it would sound over the refrain and whether it would work.” It sounded better than she could have imagined. “I figured it wasn’t my idea at all. It had to be the Holy Spirit. It worked so lovely” and made the piece feel complete.

When Diane received an email earlier this month with news of her contest victory, she cried tears of gratitude and disbelief. “I’ve never had anything published; I guess that’s why this was kind of a shock.”

The music competition also included a hymn category. Phoenix-based hymn writer, translator and editor Kathleen Pluth topped the hymn category for her original text, “Let the Earth Acclaim Christ Jesus.”

A panel of judges from Oregon Catholic Press, the Society for Catholic Liturgy, Source and Summit, the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions, GIA Publications/World Library Publications and the National Association of Pastoral Musicians convened in Washington, D.C. on May 30 to evaluate the three finalists in each category. The 185 hymn entries and 178 theme song entries were evaluated on criteria such as poetry, musicality, creativity, theological and doctrinal soundness, beauty, appropriateness for liturgical use and expression of the mission of the Eucharistic Revival. The selection process included three stages: an initial review, a more thorough second one and a live performance of the three finalists in each category.

Father Dustin Dought, associate director of the secretariat of divine worship, served as the non-voting chairperson of the committee of judges. “The quantity and quality of entries for the Eucharistic Revival Musical Comp­etition showed what great devotion there is to the sacrament of the Eucharist among the faithful of the dioceses of the United States,” he said in news release of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He hopes the winning hymn and song will “enkindle that living relationship with Jesus in the Eucharist, which will renew the Church in the United States.”

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