As a DJ, village priest in Portugal cues up faith and electronic dance music for global youth

by Lucas Garcia
DJing Priest

In the quaint village of Laúndos in northern Portugal, Father Guilherme Peixoto juggles his pastoral duties with a unique endeavor—DJing. This 49-year-old Catholic priest, amidst conducting Mass and memorial services this month, is also prepping for an upcoming international DJ performance.

This venture, which began as an innovative fundraising method for local churches almost two decades ago, has evolved into a crucial aspect of his ministry. It’s particularly significant in Europe, where religious observance is on a sharp decline, especially among the youth.

Peixoto, who recently returned from a major Halloween festival gig in Italy, believes that through electronic music, he can connect with young people. He sees it as a bridge, showing that one can appreciate music and festivals while being a devout Christian.

His role expanded to the global stage when he was tasked with energizing pilgrims early in the morning before a Mass by Pope Francis at the World Youth Day in Lisbon. Peixoto, who also serves as a military chaplain, had been prepping for performances with the Portuguese Army’s symphony band. However, he shifted focus to prepare for this massive event.

At the event, clad in his clerical collar and headphones, Peixoto captivated an audience of approximately 1.5 million, blending dance music with snippets of papal speeches. His set included powerful messages from Pope Francis and St. John Paul II, culminating in an atmosphere where faith and festivity intertwined.

After this performance, Peixoto quickly returned to his village for local religious processions. According to Silvana Pontes, a parishioner and volunteer, Peixoto’s presence in the parish’s club brings a natural and joyful atmosphere.

The parish, which faced financial struggles when Peixoto arrived in the mid-2000s, saw a turnaround thanks to his initiative to replace traditional fundraising methods with karaoke events and rock music sets. His efforts not only cleared debts but also enabled further renovations. Peixoto, who once played in bands during his seminary days, even pursued professional DJ classes, integrating music into his pastoral work.

Tania Campos, a local catechist and volunteer, notes the community’s acceptance of Peixoto’s dual role as a priest and DJ. The parish bar, only open on Friday nights to respect Sunday Mass, has become a family-friendly venue, attracting large crowds. The last night of this season’s bar saw a significant turnout, with volunteers serving local delicacies and beverages.

Sales from these events fund the church, which is now planning an ambitious project for youth activities. Andreia Flores, a volunteer, expresses joy in participating, seeing it as a blend of faith and happiness.

For Peixoto, DJing is more than entertainment; it’s a modern evangelization tool. His performances include messages from Pope Francis, like excerpts from the encyclical “Laudato Si’.” He sees this as planting seeds of faith through music.

Peixoto’s approach is inspired by Pope Francis’s call for clergy to reach out to the unchurched. In a country where religious practice among youth is dwindling, as noted by Professor Eduardo Duque, Peixoto’s methods may bridge the gap. While most of his audience might not attend Mass, their curiosity about the church is piqued.

Despite his DJing commitments, Peixoto remains dedicated to his pastoral duties, often rushing back for Mass after performances. He emphasizes the importance of being a community shepherd and believes the world is open to Jesus’s message if communicated effectively.

This story, highlighting Peixoto’s unique blend of faith and music, is part of the Big Big News religion coverage, supported through a collaboration with The Conversation US and funded by Lilly Endowment Inc. The content is solely the responsibility of the AP.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about DJing Priest

Who is Guilherme Peixoto?

Guilherme Peixoto is a Catholic priest in Laúndos, Portugal, who integrates his passion for DJing with his pastoral duties, using music as a way to connect with the youth and fundraise for his church.

How does Peixoto use DJing in his ministry?

Peixoto uses DJing to engage with young people and to raise funds for the church. He believes electronic music is a powerful medium to deliver Christian messages and to draw the youth closer to the church.

What was a significant event for Peixoto as a DJing priest?

A significant event for Peixoto was playing at the World Youth Day in Lisbon, where he performed an early morning set before Pope Francis’ Mass, blending dance music with papal speeches to an audience of 1.5 million.

How has DJing impacted Peixoto’s parish?

DJing has positively impacted Peixoto’s parish by helping to pay off debts and fund church renovations. It has also brought the community together, particularly through events at the parish bar, which serves as a social hub.

What is the reaction of Peixoto’s community to his DJing?

The community has embraced Peixoto’s dual role as a priest and DJ. His unique approach to ministry is seen as a natural and joyful expression of faith, appealing to all ages in the parish.

How does Peixoto balance his DJing with his pastoral responsibilities?

Despite his DJing commitments, Peixoto remains devoted to his pastoral duties. He often rushes back from DJ events to conduct Mass and other church activities, emphasizing the importance of being a shepherd to his community.

More about DJing Priest

  • Father Guilherme Peixoto’s Ministry
  • World Youth Day Lisbon
  • DJing and Faith Integration
  • Community Impact of Church Fundraisers
  • Balancing Pastoral Duties and DJing

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Sarah J November 13, 2023 - 8:04 am

It’s refreshing to see someone breaking stereotypes, especially in religion, Peixoto’s approach could be a game changer for how church connects with younger generations

Mia Rodriguez November 13, 2023 - 8:19 am

wow, this is amazing how a priest can be a DJ and still do his church duties, really shows you can mix faith with modern culture!

Dave_the_rave November 13, 2023 - 3:22 pm

As a DJ, i respect what Peixoto’s doing but mixing papal speeches in a set? That’s something else, would love to hear his music though, bet it’s different.

Tommy76 November 13, 2023 - 4:19 pm

kinda hard to imagine a priest playing at a rave, but hey if it works for the youth and helps the church, why not?


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