By James Buchok
The Prairie Messenger
God does not make rubbish, says singer, songwriter and Catholic priest Father Rob Galea, who was once a troubled and tortured teenager and is now a lover of God and life.
"Just over 10 years ago it would've been crazy for me to think I'd be here talking to you about God," Galea said at his performance July 9 at St. Mary's Cathedral in Winnipeg.
Father Galea, originally from Malta and now an assistant priest at St. Brendan's Church in Shepparton in the Diocese of Sandhurst, Australia, sang and played guitar and was accompanied on guitar and vocals by Australian Jason Giuliani.
In 2008 Father Galea was among a cast of musicians to perform at events before Pope Benedict XVI and an estimated 500,000 pilgrims at World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia.
Father Galea, who was ordained in 2010, said he was inspired to write a song called God Does Not Make Rubbish by a close friend and bishop who often preached that message. He had his audience singing and clapping along to that, his opening number.
At age 15 Father Galea found himself involved with an older crowd. "Alcohol gave me confidence and I did all kinds of things just to impress my friends," he said, including fighting and stealing.
"I was out of control. I was so angry, I hated myself so much. I would like to go back to my 15 year-old self and tell him 'Everything will be alright.' "
Aside from working in his church and touring, Father Galea and his bishop friend founded the Stronger youth program, a series of youth retreats, rallies and small groups.
Father Galea also works in a prison for juveniles and said some of the youth will tell him, "'God has time for you but not for me, not after what I did.' It's a lot of rubbish to think God doesn't have time for us," he said. "No matter how you mess up there is always room for you at the foot of the cross where the love of God meets our imperfection."
His latest CD, Reach Out contains twelve songs about the joys and suffering Father Galea has experienced personally and through the young people he works with.
Father Galea and Giuliani performed the titled song from the Reach Out CD, singing, "Why are you running away, so far from all that you know is true? What has the world done to you? Reach out to the hands that are longing to save you, cry out to the one who has loved you and made you."
In his teen years, at his darkest time, a friend took Father Galea to a meeting where someone spoke of God as a best friend. "I was desperate for friends," Father Galea said, and that was the beginning of his conversion. "For the first time I felt loved unconditionally, and then I started to love myself. I didn't have to prove myself to others."
"Psalm 139 tells us we are fearfully and wonderfully made," Galea said, adding that too many people feel they are "not that good. But the Bible says we were created in the image of God even before we entered the world." Father Galea and Giuliani then sang What Do You Say, written as a conversation between a mother and her unborn child.
The duo picked up the tempo, launching into the popular dance song Dynamite by Taoi Cruz. "Holiness is not about being quiet," Father Galea said, "it's about throwing your hands up in the air."
Father Galea and Giulani spent 10 days in Canada also performing in London, Ont., and Etobicoke, Ont.
The Richard Family group, parishioners at Winnipeg's Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, performed before Father Galea and afterward both offered CDs for sale, with proceeds going to youth ministry.