Most of the Salt+Light staff are major bookworms, and it shows. Chats about the latest Catholic releases happen regularly on the SLHour radio show, and our network has its very own book show, Subject Matters. So while Subject Matters is off the air for 2018 - as the team is busy working on our latest documentary, The Francis Impact (check out the trailer) - I want to share with our readers the newest books I'm enjoying in this weekly blog series.
Breakthrough by Fr. Rob Galea
I was immediately caught off guard by how much I could relate to Breakthrough: A Journey From Desperation to Hope by Fr. Rob Galea (Ave Maria Press, 2018). Galea is a 30-something Maltese priest and musician based in small-town Australia; he spends a good chunk of the year traveling all around the world, preaching the Gospel through retreats, social media, and weekly video blogs. He’s performed in front of massive crowds at World Youth Day 2008 and was briefly a reality TV star, appearing on X Factor Australia. Not exactly the type of stuff the majority of us can say we’ve been through, too!
But even if Galea weren’t a globetrotter or well-known musician, I think I’d still have been surprised by how his memoir resonated with me. To some extent we’re all a little bit guilty of putting priests on a pedestal: of believing, as Fr. Rob says, that “they should have all the answers and be all-righteous and holy and have everything in order.” It’s easy to view members of the clergy of any religion as existing in “a world apart” from the one in which laypeople experience their daily struggles, hopes, and fears. And given the secularity of the modern world, those who choose a priestly vocation can seem particularly…set apart (to put it nicely) or strange (to use a less charitable word). This book will certainly help dismantle that type of thinking.
Profiling Galea’s life story from his teens to the present, Breakthrough follows a troubled young man searching for meaning and his true self but getting lost along the way. A powerful conversion experience at age 16 is the catalyst for his eventual discernment of a vocation to the priesthood. But more than that initial experience, the role of mentors and personal examples of what it means to be a passionate Catholic and a holy, loving priest stands out as a strong theme in Galea’s faith journey. You can feel Fr. Rob’s love for God and the faith throughout this simple book that’s written from a place of gratitude and humility. It will inspire young people to grow deeper in their faith, and those further along the faith journey to prioritize their personal witness as a primary way to evangelize.
In the words of Blessed Pope Paul VI in his encyclical Evangelii Nuntiandi (1975), “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers,” and Fr. Rob Galea is certainly the kind of witness to God’s healing love that our world needs.
To learn more about Fr. Rob, check out the episode of Catholic Focus embedded below. He’ll be visiting the Salt+Light office this week to film a few new programs, so be sure to visit our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages in the next few days for updates!