Internationally acclaimed author, singer, songwriter and speaker— the all-in-one Father Rob Galea takes you on his amazing journey from a scared teenager to a passionate priest.
I am originally from the island of Malta, born in a Catholic family. Right from childhood, I often felt a sense of rejection as my parents were so strict. At the age of 13, I ran away from home and ended up living a rebellious life. I got involved stealing in gangs and became heavily addicted to drugs. One day I got into trouble with one of the gangs. This led to depression and anxiety, because they were looking to kill me. I had nowhere safe to go, so I went back home.
I never thought my parents would accept me but they did. I hid myself in my room. I screamed and yelled because of my frustration and anger. I even tried to harm myself several times. Often, my parents knocked at the door asking if I needed help. I would shout at them and ask them to leave me alone. I was angry with my parents and with God. I believed in God, but I didn’t understand why God would allow me to go through all this suffering and pain.
In my book, “Breakthrough: Journey from desperation to hope” there’s a chapter about this phase in my life. I gave it to my mom when I was already a priest. I told my mom that there was a time when I really wanted them, not to just knock at the door, but to break it down, to hold me close, and to say everything’s going to be alright. I was so depressed. I was harming myself. I didn’t have any purpose in my life. Even as a priest, I was angry at my parents that they didn’t do more. My mom called me after she had read that chapter. She was crying and said, “Every time you slammed the door, your dad and I never left. We fell on our knees right outside your room, and we prayed for you. We could hear you cry in desperation, and we cried in hope. Even though we hadn’t access to your heart, we knew someone who could and that was Jesus”
And I honestly stand here alive, all because of my parents’ prayers. Eventually, I came to encounter Jesus through a youth group which I attended by coincidence and discovered people who loved God. I didn’t like the people in the prayer group, because I thought they were nerds. Yet, I wanted what they had—the peace which only Jesus can give. As I had experienced extreme darkness in life, I became very passionate about the light. This was 20 years ago, and I haven’t stopped pointing people to this light.
There wasn’t a moment like that, but it was really the fellowship with people who loved Jesus that led me to fall in love with Him. Gradually, the culture of my heart changed. I began to encounter Him during prayer, worship, and adoration. It wasn’t a quick conversion. During those years, even though I was following Jesus, I was still addicted to drugs, still stealing, and still violent. However, the desire for these things started to go away gradually. After a few years, my life was purified. It was a real battle, but I overcame these battles, with the help of an extremely patient community.
Well…I started playing music when things started turning around. I went back to Mass, and in the youth group they needed someone to play music for the choir. I just knew a couple of chords that I had learned from my mom, who used to play guitar. I even watched television, and just copied the chords. I felt this deep sense of consolation and peace. Every time I played music, I felt like touching Heaven. Then I started to write music. A friend of mine who was sick had passed away, and his parents asked me to sing a song for his funeral. I wrote the song for my friend’s funeral which was later recorded and published. It became, at that time, the best selling single in Malta.
From there I got a record label in England, and then got signed with Sony records here in Australia. My music started to take off, even though I hadn’t asked for it. By the time I had signed with Sony, I was already a seminarian. I was ready to give up all of my music. All I wanted was to follow Jesus, but God had other plans. The music started to grow, and I started to see lives changing. Somehow, God used my music to reach the hearts of people.
Again, it wasn’t a single moment but a gradual realization. I didn’t realize that God was calling me to the priesthood until I looked back. I was in a relationship and had been dating for four years. I had a degree in commerce and was ready to take up my dad’s business. Everything was planned for my future. At this point, I was into Christian music and touring through Europe. I was giving a concert in Italy, when I saw a priest walk in.
There were about 600 people in the crowd. This priest was young and surrounded by young people. I was in the middle of a song, but I thought to myself, “Wow this guy is cool. I prayed, “God I don’t want to be a priest, but if it gotta be anything like this guy then I will consider it.” We became friends. It wasn’t a desire to the priesthood but more of a desire to be like him, to have the joy that he had in serving others. Slowly, I started to wonder, “Maybe God is calling me to the priesthood.” It was a slow process. As I said, I had a girlfriend, and I wasn’t intending to leave her. One day I talked about it to my girlfriend. Eventually, we decided to take a break and see where the Lord was leading. She cried, and I cried. It was difficult, but we ended the relationship. I started feeling that I was called into the priesthood. I entered seminary and eventually was ordained as a priest. She got engaged to be married, and invited me to be part of that ceremony. We are still good friends. When I look back, I can see that I always wanted to share the love of God that I had received from other people. This is the call of my life that I realized through my priesthood.
Yes, there have been several moments, especially in my early days in seminary, when I felt the presence of God. I was in a chapel praying. Suddenly, I felt this immense closeness to God. There was a point where I felt so loved as I was sitting right in front of the Blessed Sacrament that I felt my heart was going to explode. This presence wasn’t just a consolation, it was a call. I felt the need to do something more. I had experienced the love of God, and I wanted to tell others about God’s love. This was 16 or 17 years ago, and I don’t think I have felt the presence of God like that in any way or any form, since then. But my relationship with Jesus is like being in a boxing ring: I’m constantly wrestling with God—trying to figure out God’s will. God is loving and patient with me, He keeps me here, seeking His will. It’s always a struggle; I don’t understand why God sometimes allows certain things in my life, let alone in the world. At the end of the day, my relationship with God is not about how I feel about Him. I am committed to Him because I know He is committed to me first and foremost.
Those moments when we reach the end of ourselves, we can look at it in two ways. You can look at it in anger, or you can look up and say, ‘I am at the end of myself, please lift me up’
Every moment when we think and wish we weren’t in this place—it could be a physical prison, spiritual prison, or emotional prison that we find ourselves in, remember Romans 8:28 wherein God uses every situation for the good of those who love Him. When all you can see is the wall in front of you whether it is a prison, or a hospital, or a psychiatric ward—even the most horrible situation can become a place of grace when you choose to look up.
I will say three must-haves for every day. Start your day with conversation. First thing I do in the morning when I open my eyes is to say, “Good Morning Jesus.” Before I get out of bed I ask Jesus, “Give me a hug,” and I just imagine God giving me a hug. Second thing is to keep close to the Sacraments, especially the Sacrament of the Eucharist. Mass and Confession are important, because we all fail and mess up. God doesn’t abandon us when we sin. Sometimes, we block ourselves from grace. The more we walk in grace, the more strength we have to live for Him. The third is community—surround yourself with people who love Jesus more than you do. I surround myself with people who inspire me to love Jesus. We need each other to keep the flame of God’s love in our hearts alive.
Well, working with Shalom World has been a privilege and an opportunity to teach the Gospel and spread it further. At the end of the day this is my desire and my only hope—to give glory to Jesus and to share His Word and His truth with the world.
Sharing the Word and the truth is not always easy. I know many people do this, but I feel it’s a privilege and an honor to collaborate with Shalom World. This is an incredible and excellent platform to share the Gospel with the world. I am very excited about what we have done, but I know the very best is yet to come. I am looking forward to the new program that is going to be aired soon. I will give you a little bit of sneak peak here—It’s going to be a show that deals with all the controversial topics and what the Church has to say on matters of homosexuality, transgender, gambling, wars, pornography, tattoos and so much more. And guess what?! The show is going to be recorded before a live audience in our FRG ministry studio! We are so excited to bring this new collaboration with Shalom World.
Father Rob Galea is an ordained Catholic Priest and is currently serving in Sandhurst Diocese, Victoria after moving to Australia from Malta, his home country. He serves as an assistant parish priest, as well as the executive director of FRG Ministry. Fr Rob’s book “Breakthrough” will be released as a Hollywood movie in 2025. To watch ‘Wkly with Fr. Rob’ on Shalom World visit: shalomworld.org/show/wkly-with-fr-rob
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