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Hip-Hop Priest Brings Music To Polish Youths

posted 19 Mar 2014, 08:44 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 19 Mar 2014, 08:44 ]

A Catholic priest in the Polish city of Wroclaw creates religious hip hop music videos in his spare time, and is succeeding in bringing young people to the Church.

WROCLAWPOLAND (MARCH 17, 2014) (REUTERS) -  He may have the moves and the voice but Jakub Bartczak is not your typical hip-hop artist.

"Who will go to heaven? Tell me how to fight the temptations of the devil," he raps in one music video, filmed outside a church in the Polish city of Wroclaw.

The confident performer gazes into the camera, his rap attitude belying his religious robes.

Bartczak is a Catholic priest. Alongside his community duties, such as visiting the sick in hospital and giving mass, he composes music and records videos in his spare time.

His music has broken down religious and community boundaries, he says.

"People who ask questions sometimes do not have the courage to approach us and ask us priests things because to them a priest seems like some serious person they're afraid of approaching. With hip-hop, because we have similar interests, they have more courage," Bartczak told Reuters inside the church he preaches in.

His lyrics contain more questions about religion than answers, encouraging the young and the old alike to turn to faith to find "a way forward".

"I want to invite people to the faith, or simply to ask about God," Bartczak says.

Though his undertaking initially surprised members of the Catholic faith, it has now become accepted, even popular, as fellow priests and superiors witness Bartczak's impact engaging the young.

Still young himself, Bartczak knows firsthand the disaffection some youths in Wroclaw feel. He grew up in one of the city's many community housing blocks, when Poland was still a communist satellite state of the Soviet Union.

Bartczak hopes his music will help those young people who are "looking for value in their life".

"They have no time, maybe even have no such opportunity. I would like to remind them that the first step can be taken. My music is not something far-reaching, but it is mobilizing people to take the first step. Such as a question mark, or showing a way forward, a road that leads somewhere," Bartczak says.

Some of the young people helping Bartczak create his next music video believe the priest could see success in the music industry if he broadened his subject matter to touch on education and employment, too.

In the group is rapper Piotr Biernat. He thinks Bartczak was brave to diverge from clerical norms.

"Nowadays is very hard to admit to faith, but rap has always been for courageous people, no matter what," Biernat says. They must always have the courage to talk about it. No matter what about; religion or about living in the blocks. There is no place for weak people in rap music".

Bartczak's next album is already in the pipeline.

Though he may not yet achieve nationwide number one success with his records, his religious innovations are proving a hit among many of Wroclaw's youths and a welcome bolstering for the Catholic Church in the area.


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