Australia's pastor of pop

The pop star priest

Rob Galea is an assistant priest in Victoria's Diocese of Sandhurst. The young Maltese-Australian is also a music sensation who plays to hundreds of thousands each year. The Sydney Morning Herald shines a light on the apparent paradox of Fr Galea.

Rob Galea is probably the biggest pop star you've never heard of. He plays to hundreds of thousands of people every year. He gets mobbed on the streets of many countries. He was invited to perform on the US version of The Voice, but was too busy. Is he based in Hollywood? London? No, Rob Galea lives in Shepparton, in central Victoria.

Such is the Galea paradox. He's young – 32. He's handsome – as evidenced by his selfies on Instagram. He has undeniable sex appeal – women are known to weep and scream "I love you!" during concerts. He's a gym junkie who lifts 110 kilograms.

But as well as being a pop singer and aspiring body-builder, this gently-spoken man with "Forgiven" tattooed down his well-honed bicep is an ordained Catholic priest; perhaps the world's biggest celibate sex symbol.

Fr Rob Galea is an assistant priest in the Catholic Diocese of Sandhurst. He says his vocation isn't to top the charts, but to convince young people they are loved unconditionally: "I'm first and foremost a Christian, then I'm a priest and then I'm a musician." Only four years after his ordination, Galea is already being credited with re-energising the Catholic Church in Australia.

When not undertaking parish duties – Fr Galea is chaplain at Shepparton's Notre Dame Secondary College, visits two hospitals and six retirement homes, and manages the diocese's youth program – he tours the world playing packed stadiums, schools and conferences with his band of hipster Christians and makes albums, which have sold tens of thousands. 

He wants to spread his message of acceptance everywhere – even to less-than-sober nightclub-goers. "Even if they're drugged out of their brains, even if they're drunk," he jokes. "Whatever it takes."

Galea, who migrated to Australia from Malta in 2007, has been both high and drunk. As a teen he bucked against his strict, Catholic parents and at 14 started frequenting nightclubs in Paceville, a hotspot near his home in eastern Malta, drinking, taking drugs and stealing. 

"I wanted to be cool, to be notorious." He befriended local gangsters. "They were the troublemakers, drug dealers, people who would start fights." But they turned on him for spreading rumours about their ringleader, which nearly cost him his life but triggered his religious conversion.

Read full article: Rob Galea, the pop star priest (The Sydney Morning Herald)


No Greater Love - Fr Rob Galea (YouTube)

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