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A group of priests who met in seminary have formed a band to raise money for young people in their archdiocese to attend World Youth Day (WYD), which will take place Aug. 1–6 in Lisbon, Portugal.

“Priests in Concert” is composed of nine priests from the Archdiocese of Washington: Fathers Pawel Sass, Yan Pietryga, Grzegorz Okulewicz, Mattia Cortigiani, Philip Ilg, John Benson, Salulo Vicente, Emanuel Lucero, and Daniele Rebeggiani.

The priests all attended the Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Hyattsville, Maryland, and are members of the Neocatechumenal Way, a Catholic movement that sends out families on missions around the world and the priests from its seminaries to evangelize.

Member of music group "Priests in Concert" performs on stage at event raising money for WYD2023 in Lisbon, Portugal. Photo courtesy of Priests in Concert

Father Daniele Rebeggiani, the secretary to the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, D.C., and an archdiocesan priest, spoke with CNA about the group’s fundraising efforts and his hopes for WYD.

Rebeggiani explained that the group formed earlier this year after a young adult event brought several priests together to host an evening of music. Shortly after, the priests were gearing up to start fundraising for WYD at their individual parishes. Realizing that the previous music event was a success, they decided to invite more priests to join the band, invite parishioners to attend, and put on a concert in order to raise funds.

Singing popular songs such as “Eye of the Tiger” and “Knocking on Heaven’s Door,” the priests also include songs from other countries such as Spain, Italy, Poland, Mexico, and, of course, Portugal, as many of the attendees are from the Hispanic community.

Rebeggiani describes their concerts as “a night of music and witness.”

In addition to the setlist of songs, a concert may include a vocation story from a priest or a testimony from a young person who has attended a previous WYD.

Rebeggiani shared that many of the priests in the group have a close connection to WYD because many found their vocation to the priesthood while attending previous events.

“I would say almost all of us, we discovered our vocation as part of one of the World Youth Days,” he said. “So, in a sense, World Youth Day is an event that is closely linked to our vocation.”

Rebeggiani himself found his calling to the priesthood at the WYD in Cologne, Germany, in 2005.

Born in Rome, Italy, Rebeggiani grew up in a Catholic family. At the age of 13 he entered the Neocatechumenal Way and attended his first WYD in 1997 in Paris. He attended several more after; however, as he got older he “was living in a very secularized environment and began to drift away a little from the Church.”

By Francesca Pollio Fenton

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