MILFORD – St. Ann Parish will host Australian singer-songwriter Father Rob Galea and the St. Ann Choir at 3 p.m. Nov. 20 and at 7 p.m. Nov. 21.
The composer of five CDs will also perform at 7 p.m. Nov. 19 at Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish in Stamford and at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 20 at St. Pius X Church, Fairfield.
The local tour is the work of St. Ann’s music director, Peter DeMarco, who “discovered” Father Galea last February at the four-day Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, the largest gathering of its kind with 40,000 people in attendance.
“He’s just a very charismatic person,” said Mr. DeMarco. “He’s got this gift, plus he can sing and write music that resonates with all people, particularly youth.”
The audience is “going to have a great experience and walk away feeling good about God,” said Mr. DeMarco. “He writes such beautiful melodies and great refrains. And almost every day, he posts something new on Facebook or his website” (www.frrobgalea.com).
“I don’t know how he has all the time for this,” from youth events in Australia to concerts in Vancouver, Texas and Los Angeles, he noted.
“His fan base is growing,” Mr. DeMarco said of the 35-year-old priest, who was ordained five years ago. Father Galea played for Pope Francis at World Youth Day in Poland, and even appeared on Australia’s “The X Factor” before pulling out because of the time commitment. The appearance, however, generated an international audience for the Malta-born singer.
Father Galea, who was born in 1981, also co-founded a series of youth retreats and rallies that take place in Australia.
Mr. DeMarco invited singer- songwriter Curtis Stephan in the past two years to sing with the St. Ann Choir, drawing 325 people the first year and an estimated 500 people over two days the next year. It was a good deal for both musicians. Mr. Stephan performed his songs, available through Oregon Catholic Press (OCP), and Mr. DeMarco wrote the choral arrangements.
Mr. DeMarco made the same offer to Father Galea, agreeing to write the choral arrangements if Father Galea would make St. Ann’s his first East Coast appearance.
“Nobody’s doing what we’re doing here … finding good, new music with strong melodies that resonate with people,” Mr. DeMarco said. He pointed to St. Monica Parish in Santa Monica, Calif., as a strong example of a parish that offers good liturgy and good music (and live streams its Sunday Mass). “And, if there’s no choral arrangement, I’ll write my own. I just love what I’m doing; and when you’re given a talent, you have a responsibility to use it.
“There’s great new contemporary music in the Catholic Church, and this is an opportunity to hear and understand it,” said Mr. DeMarco, who has a litany of musical accomplishments of his own since he first filled in to play at a Mass at the age of 13.
In addition to teaching and performing throughout the area, Mr. DeMarco is working on scores for film and videos and has two hit songs of his own: “You’ve Changed,” written with Scott Krietzer, and “My Dream Come True,” which continues to get airplay 22 years after being produced. He also has composed a Mass.
Among memorable songs released by Father Galea, Mr. DeMarco said, are “I Surrender” and “At the Foot of the Cross.”
“For some reason, I can’t get them out of my head,” he said. “He just comes up with such good ideas musically.”
Tickets for the performance at St. Ann are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. For information, call 203-874-0634.