Fr. Rob Galea is an ordained priest of the diocese of Sanhurst Diocese in Victoria, Australia. He is also an internationally known musician and artist who has had opportunities to compete on X-Factor, and play in front of an estimated 500,000 at World Youth Day in 2011. His latest song, Dominoes, has become an instant hit across the globe. The main message: that we are all broken and in need of the love of Christ. Jared Zimmerer recently had an opportunity to discuss music, culture, and evangelization with Fr. Rob.
Jared: You have been able to effectively move into the culture and plant seeds of hope and encouragement through your music and personality. What do you see as the best strategy for evangelists hoping to use their talents in planting the seeds of Christ in and through culture?
Fr. Rob: One of the most important things that I had to learn as an evangelist is to not be ashamed of your gifts and talents. When I first began using my own talents, people would often tell me that I am proud, or that I am seeking attention for my own glory, that I was vain. But at the end of the day, if that false impression is what it takes to evangelize, then I will do it anyway. I think we need to be prepared to use everything we have. Every resource we are able to use in order to proclaim the Gospel. I think also, one of the most important things is to not forget our own humanity. Sure, people connect with my music, but I think that they also connect with my acknowledgment of my humanity. I make mistakes and I am ready to admit that I am not perfect, that I am still learning just as they are. This aspect of humanity is something that people can connect with at the end of the day. An evangelist must be open to share that connection between human persons.
One other thing is that I think talent and charisma will certainly draw people, but it will not keep them. One of the things that I try really hard on it establishing community, especially with our young people here in Australia. There is a community based youth ministry called Stronger Youth here where we meet in small groups, we have rallies, and we come together to help the larger community around us. So, while we certainly need to use our talents and charisma, it takes more to keep people. And of course, in all things, we point ot Christ and the hope that He alone can give.
Jared: How do you so effectively communicate the Gospel through the medium of culture and what role do you see music playing in the work of evangelization?
Fr. Rob: Ultimately, as evangelists, we need to use every means possible to reach people. So, YouTube offers a platform, I get a camera and I am going to use that. Music, I happen to have a gift in music, so I am going to use that. And not only that, I want to work with the best people in the industry when I make music. Now, I will always say first and foremost, I am a Christian. I belong to Jesus and I want to be identified as a Christian, as a Catholic. Then, I am a priest of the Catholic Church. I am privileged that I get to serve God as a priest. Only after those two facts are established then I will share my identity as a musician, an author, a vlogger, etc. But I love music in particular because it is the language of the heart. It transcends the mind. It is the language that soothes even the savage beast. I get opportunities to speak at schools, sometimes with 2,000 kids and sure they’re attentive when you’re speaking but the minute you pick up a guitar and start playing music, something happens. You are now speaking their language and they can better receive the Gospel. So, my vocation as a priest is to proclaim word and sacrament, and I think music is a powerful means to communicate the word on God.
Jared: Your music ranges from pop to electronic dance, to acoustic and melody. Do you have a preferred style? Where do you get your inspiration to write and create your music?
Fr. Rob: I like all music. I like classical music, I like pop music, I even like metal. In a certain sense, I am trying to be true to who I am. I’m not trying to do dance music because I want to be cool or relevant. These styles of music speak to my heart and they allow me to communicate different aspects of my relationship with Jesus.
As for inspiration, I listen to different artists, I study them and their styles, and, as I mentioned, I try to work with some of the best in the industry. So, I am blessed enough to work with some of the greatest artists, some of which have written for Bieber, Jessica Mauboy, and many other incredible talents. So, I seek out these artists and they’re very often willing to help and in their own way serve God.
Jared: Tell us about your latest song, Dominoes. What do you hope to communicate? Who do you see as your main audience who you want to give such a message?
Fr. Rob: Well, I wrote the song and was able to pitch it to Ira Losco’s staff. Not only is Ira a phenomenal talent, but I wanted to reach out to the LGBT community and Ira has been able to work with them numerous times. While we are struggling to be able to speak to that community as a Church, I thought I would use the medium of music, which transcends the politics of it all, and speak to them about hope. We’re all broken in some way. I don’t have it all together, she doesn’t have it all together, but when we can come together in our brokenness and surrender it all to love it creates a work of art. And that’s what I wanted to communicate through that song, that we are all broken and at the end of the day we need Jesus, we all need love.
The beauty of the song is that it has opened up our ability to speak the Gospel to a new audience. My main audience is anyone who is open to hearing the message of Jesus. I come from a background where I myself was messed up, I had a drug addiction very young, and if someone didn’t come into my messy place, I probably wouldn’t be here. So, I’m going to go where there is a mess because everyone needs to hear the Good News.
Jared: As a Catholic priest, you also play a vital role as a spiritual father, how do you see your music in such a role?
Fr. Rob: Well, it isn’t as if I sing to people when I am giving spiritual direction, but the fact that I’ve been on the X-Factor, that I have a few albums, it creates an automatic connection with those I serve. And this is an open door for their hearts, to give me credibility before I even speak. This is something that I could take for granted, or something I could take seriously. I don’t sing every day. In my parish, I hardly sing actually and a lot of my parishioners don’t even know that I play music. But, I love that I get to use music to reach out to people.
Jared: From music, to lifting weights, to writing; you are an incredibly talented and balanced person. What message would you want to share with those who desire to find that balance in their lives?
Fr. Rob: In terms of balance, I struggle with it myself. But I think that one of the most important things here is discipline. Sure, there’s talent. But, if you don’t find discipline you are like a spotlight all over the place. So, for me, from an early time, because of my past, and the incredible formation I had to get out of a dark place, I set certain disciplines into my life. For example, I meditate and pray every day, sacraments every day, exercise every day, even when I don’t feel like it. Even if I just go and do some calf raises or ten push-ups, I will make sure I exercise every day. Also, to be balanced, we need leisure. Taking some time off is probably the thing I struggle with most. We also need friendships, friends who treat you as you ought to be. I get the opportunities to sing on stages in front of hundreds of thousands of people and they scream for you. But often they have no idea who you are. They want the selfies. But they don’t know your struggles.
Another thing is self-control in our diet. I find that to be very important because that gives me discipline everywhere else. If I eat right, I have the energy I need. In the end, we need to practice humility, that at the end of the day, we have everything because of Jesus. I have been blessed with a platform, but I need the mercy of Jesus just as desperately as all of you.