Seminarian hungers of the Spirit

By  Stephanie Buosi, Youth Speak News
  • January 23, 2009
{mosimage}TORONTO - Robert Galea , a talented guitarist and songwriter, as well as a seminarian from Malta now studying in Australia, played his music for a crowd of 60 people gathered in a small yet welcoming Salt + Light Television studio Jan. 16.

The event, titled Hungry for the Spirit, was a collaborative effort of Salt + Light Television , Civitas, the archdiocese of Toronto and Faith Connections and was filmed for later broadcast on Salt + Light’s concert series Openings.

Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B., CEO of Salt + Light, opened the evening by celebrating Mass in the Salt + Light chapel and then explained the event’s multiple purpose: to promote Catholic culture while striving to bring people from different organizations together, and the opportunity for Galea to spread the faith through his music.

“I wanted Robert to get to know Canada, but I also wanted Canada to get to know him,” Rosica said.

Rosica said he discovered Galea when the seminarian sang during the Stations of the Cross at World Youth Day 2008 in Sydney, Australia. Moved by the prayer and song, Rosica took note of Galea and decided to contact him. However, it wasn’t until November that Rosica received a call from Galea and the two had a chance to talk.

“People kept telling me about Fr. Thomas Rosica and saying that I should meet him. So I decided to call,” Galea said.

Rosica presented the idea of Galea coming to Canada.

“I thought to myself, ‘This was an extraordinary person.’ It’s so rare to see a seminarian with such faith and talent,” Rosica said.

On stage, Galea gave a brief explanation as to why he shares his music with others.

“I wished to serve God but didn’t know how. Music is a language that speaks to the heart as it transcends. Sometimes words are not enough and I use music to speak a language that people can understand,” he said.

The songs he performed were from his latest album What a Day. The songs describe what he has been going through spiritually in the seminary and as he lives his life as a Christian.

“I was 16 when I got to know Jesus and it is a fire which burns within me. I hope that we too will get to know Jesus and experience this fire within ourselves,” he said.

During his five-day stay Galea spent the bulk of his time rehearsing his songs with the local musicians who performed with him. These included Andy Carey, who performs locally and provides music at the Newman Centre’s Sunday evening Mass, and John Dawson, program co-ordinator and music director with the Office of Catholic Youth.

Musical accompaniment also included local musicians Francisco Mahecha on percussion, Catherine Emes on violin and Mariano Rodrigues on bass.

The songs were meant to invite the audience to reflect. The musicians also shared a bit of their own story and how they came to writing these songs.

“Writing Christian and Catholic music doesn’t have to have prayer words in order to be prayer. Both Andy Carey and John Dawson are motivated by their faith to create this music,” said Salt + Light Producer Pedro Guevara-Mann, after the two had finished their solo performances.

Benny Chan, a student at the University of Toronto, found the music to be quite enjoyable.

“It was universal and it was a good experience. All people can connect as the Christianity was implicit rather then explicit,” he said. “I was surprised at how personal he was, and how he told his story through words and song. I really connected with him.”

Other artists who have been featured on Openings include Fr. Stan Fortuna, Critical Mass and John Michael Talbot.

(Buosi, 17, is a Grade 12 student at St. Augustine Secondary School in Brampton.)

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