FR ROB GALEA Priest who travels the world with his music returns to Malta for concert
Father Rob Galea, who uses music as part of his ministry around the world, will be in Malta on 2 October, performing at a Christian conference entitled ‘Undivided’ at SmartCity, Malta.
Dr Galea, an ordained Catholic priest who is currently serving in the Sandhurst Diocese, Victoria, after moving to Australia from Malta, is also a singer and songwriter with an international fan base. Apart from a series of recordings and CD releases, Fr Rob has also written a number of songs for various campaigns and international conferences. He also had the honour of playing for Pope Benedict XVI back in 2008, and even appeared on X-Factor Australia.
What made you decide to leave Malta and use music to reach out to young people?
I got into music before I found my vocation, and before moving to Australia. I started playing in my parish in Ibragg and Youth Group when I was 17. When I was 21, during my first year in the Seminary, I got my first record deal in the UK. From there I began touring Europe. In 2008 I was approached by the World Youth Day Office to sing for the Pope and subsequently signed with Sony records for a year.
The 2008 World Youth Day was celebrated in Australia and I spent a year there. From there, the Bishop of the area asked me to stay on, and so I did. I continued playing music as a Seminarian, and signed with my current record label called GIA, an American record label. While I use music as part of my ministry, I don’t consider myself a performer. I am a priest that uses music. It’s strange to say this, but I find greater joy just being with people and giving a message of hope.
I recently started blogging, releasing a weekly Youtube video. Because of my music, I travel the world, so I’m booked two years in advanced and I speak to around 200,000 teenagers a year through my work. I’m on an aeroplane four times a week, which is why I started blogging, as it helps me keep in touch with those who have followed me.
When was the last time you were to Malta?
About six weeks ago – I come home around three times a year, as I have a lot of engagements in Europe and come to Malta for three or four days usually.
In your own words, how would you describe your music, your sound?
I would say it’s adult contemporary: acoustic, laid-back rock. It’s like Ed Sheeran and Damian Rice. I’ve even written some electronic dance music for some nightclubs here, but I don’t perform that. I write all kinds of music – although I haven’t written a death metal song yet.
Are you using your music to make the Church more attractive?
I am not in the least bit interested in modernising the Church or making it more appealing. I am interested in authenticity. I’m interested in getting people to be real. This is the way God wants me to be, real and authentic, and this is what the world needs, authenticity. I have never tried to make an effort to be cool or appealing: I’m just being myself and that’s all I’m interested in.
Why did you leave XFactor?
I went on the X-Factor, auditioned and passed. To be honest, I didn’t think I’d get as far as I did. I kept progressing, moving forward and then I started to think: I’m already committed two years in advance to concerts, so I signed with a record label. I
run the Youth Ministry for my diocese and I work in a parish, so when I was asked to stay on, spending four months locked up in an area – and it sounded so good and I could have reached many people – at the end of the day it wasn’t realistic and I didn’t want to be recognised as a performer. I am, first and foremost a priest who uses music to deliver a message. I think it was just a progressive realisation while I was there – it isn’t as if I decided straightaway that I was leaving. I thought about it long and hard and looked to the future and realised that I am happy where I am and with what I am doing and, in a ministry sense, I didn’t need it.
Describe a touching moment with a fan.
Music is powerful and can soothe the savage beast. It can reach people over and over again. I’ve just got back from a weekend with hundreds of teenagers and I’m soon off to speak to thousands more, and one of the things I see is how people are open to a simple message of love. The ones that have the most impact on me are those I see grow from no faith to a place of holiness, a place of authenticity in their relationship with God. It’s not a one-off experience, but it’s an ongoing growth that impresses me most.
Tell us a bit about Undivided.
It’s a Christian concert, organised by a committee made up of Catholics and non-Catholics. It’s about praying for unity. Various Christian artists and speakers will be taking part and I will be playing a set there, using a full band, playing both my own and other music. I think it will be a fun, relaxing time and it will also be a time of reflection, thinking about the joy of life. I’ll also be talking about my experiences, etc.
If you had to give the number one most memorable moment in your life, what would it be?
Firstly, when I was ordained a priest. Then there was singing for the Pope and performing for 500,000 people – which was an exhilarating feeling. That concert changed my life, my ministry and the way I reach out to people. I believe that working with young people on a local level is also up there.
Which artists have inspired you?
There are a number of Christian artists, such as Vessel and Gungor, and then other artists like Sia. I also listen to Skrillex, Ed Sheeran and even Justin Bieber.
Is there anything you would like to share with our readers?
I would like to encourage people who have never been to a Christian concert to give it a try. It’s going to be an experience to remember, an amazing concert. One of the things I live by is a message of hope, that we are all loved and accepted. This is what I will be talking about as I take part in the concert. Having suffered from depression and pain myself, I now live life to the full. I still suffer from it sometimes, but it is just a matter of attitude and living life authentically.
Undivided will be held on 2 October and the aim is to bring together all Christians, from all denominations, for a night of music and unity and to celebrate their faith. The concert will include contemporary and rock Christian music, led by bands including Y4J band and Pilgrim & King, who are one of Youth Fellowship’s bands and their members include Gianluca Bezzina and Raquela Dalli Gonzi. Mike Pilavachi, founder of the global Youth Ministry Soul Survivor from England, will also be taking part. Fabian Grech, a Pentecostal who, together with his young family, is in Iraq on mission work, will be one of the speakers and Marisha Bonnici will be choreographing a number of dances.
In addition, Andrea Bocelli will be sending a direct video message and also dedicating a song.
Tickets are €5 and available from ticketline.com.mt or by calling 9911 7195.