FR ROB GALEA Priest who trav­els the world with his mu­sic re­turns to Malta for con­cert

Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE - Kevin Schem­bri Or­land

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.

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