Priest Uses Rap To Spread Love
September 23, 2014 - WNBC

When you think of a traditional church service, you probably think of the standard mass, but one man is changing that.

Known as the Rappin' Priest, Father Stan of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, has found a unique way of spreading the message of God -- through hip-hop. 

"It transcends the linguistic barriers, the cultural barriers, even the inter-religious barriers," Stan said. "I've got to put the word out there. The love of God is universal. Make it intelligible in language, especially young people can understand, it's the amazing to see the fruitfulness of that." 

 

His lyrical journey has taken him from Yonkers, where he grew up, to a South Bronx community and as far as Uganda, even performing in front of Pope John Paul II. 

"When the pope came to St. Louis, I was able to be apart of that, and I performed my song," Stan said. 

Although based in the South Bronx, Father Stan has been touring the world for the past six years.

"I haven't been to every single country, but almost," he said.

No matter where he goes, he's changing people's perception of themselves and religion.

"Sometimes people say, 'You don't look like a Catholic priest,' and I'm like, 'That's good,'" Stan said.

Raised in an Italian and Greek Catholic family, the 46-year- old Stan was trained as a jazz musician before moving into rap.

"Rap sort of found me. I would take my assignments in the inner city of Manhattan, Spanish Harlem, Lower East Side. It was part of the culture I moved into, and there was a certain affinity to the spontaneity. Look at that, I don't even try to do that and it comes naturally!"

Fr. Stan also understands that the genre he loves so much has a bad rap.

"When they think of rap, they think of the vulgarity and the violence, but the pristine roots of that go back when kids were in the street talking about life," he said.

To date, he has released 13 CDs, many recorded in his studio on the church premises. He's also released a MTV-style music video titled "Everybody Got To Suffer."

"The culture tells us that suffering is bad, that there's no value in suffering, and that's not true," Stan said.

His message of loving your fellow man and weathering the highs and lows of life defies religious categorization.

"I've had people that aren't believers, they didn't necessarily understand it, and they didn't even agree with it, but their hearts were touched. That's the kind of power -- to touch the human heart on a deeper level, that's sacred ground," Stan said. "That's powerful, when you really get the attention like that, then you give the content the opportunity to penetrate the heart."