December 4, 2023

Portugal: Guilherme Peixoto is a priest and DJ


Priest Peixoto replaces the altar with a blender

If young people no longer come to church, the church will come to young people. Under this banner, Guilherme Peixoto has a slightly different side: he is a DJ and a successful one at that.


  • Guilherme Peixoto is a priest and DJ.

  • The Portuguese is successful in his second career.

  • This would allow him to reach young people better.

As a priest in two parishes in northern Portugal, Guilherme Peixoto has had a lot to do in the past few weeks. In addition to the usual masses, the program included a memorial service for the departed. At the same time, he had to prepare for his next appearance as a DJ at an international festival. What started as a local fundraiser two decades ago has almost become a second career for the 49-year-old. But it’s more than just that.

“I can convey a message with electronic music. “I can be where the young people are,” Peixoto says a few days after returning from a major Halloween festival in Italy. “You can think, if it is possible for a priest to be a DJ, then it is possible for me to love music and festivals and be a Christian at the same time.”

Priest’s international achievement as a DJ is still very recent. In August, his country hosted International Youth Day. The organizers of the mass event in Lisbon had asked him to “wake up the pilgrims” before an open-air mass with Pope Francis at 7 a.m. That Sunday morning, he stood on stage wearing a priest collar and big black headphones. About 1.5 million believers listened to him.

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Surrounded by bishops in white robes, Peixoto moved to his own rhythms. In between, he played excerpts from papal sermons. At the beginning of the roughly 30-minute set, he mixed words from John Paul II from 1978 into the soundscape. Don’t be afraid to open your heart to Christ, visitors heard him say in Italian. In the end, the dancing pilgrims were assured by Francis’ recording in Spanish that the church had room “for everyone, everyone, everyone.”

Peixoto had been up half the night preparing audio excerpts of the Pope’s speech the night before. Once the High Sunday Mass on World Youth Day ended, he drove back four hours to his church in Londos to lead a procession, says Silvana Pontes, a member of his congregation there and a club volunteer. Where DJ Kahn plays on weekends in the summer.

When Peixoto was sent to Londos as a priest about 20 years ago, the church was strapped for cash and had to borrow to finance renovations on the main church. Many community members are tired of bake sales and door-knocking campaigns. So Peixoto, who had played in two bands while in seminary, called on youth choirs to start a karaoke fundraiser. Only a few years later the debts were paid off. The priest tasted it.

Because he had long ago given up his musical ambitions, Peixoto had already sold his equipment before his ordination. But now he’s taking professional DJ lessons. Most parishioners soon became accustomed to their priest occasionally conjuring up crazy tunes at RD Rock, an open-air club located on a hill above the city.

“It was weird at first, but now it’s normal,” says Tanya Campos, who was born and raised in Lowndos, is involved in the community as a catechist and choral singer, and now also an assistant at RD Rock. . “You don’t think about the fact that you’re in a bar with a priest. “You just feel it,” Pontis says of the mood in the club. In all, about fifty helpers from Londos and the neighboring municipality of Amorim ensured the parties continued with hundreds of guests, which often lasted until three in the morning. All proceeds from beverage and food sales go to the church, which now plans to build a new youth center.

But Peixoto isn’t just about partying. Working part-time as a DJ in his city and abroad became a new calling for him. “I’m taking these messages where the church can’t go,” he says of appearances like the one held recently at the festival in Italy that was attended by about 30,000 visitors. There is also the mixing of electronic beats with Francis’ lyrics. “Not much, two or three sentences from the Pope. But if I wasn’t there, there would be no sentences at all. It’s like a little seed, and the Holy Spirit will do His work.”

In Portugal, about half of young people say they have no religion. Most people attended church services less frequentlyThey have less trust in the church and pray less than older generations, according to a recent study by Eduardo Duque of the Catholic University of Portugal in Braga.

Peixoto always says: “If we can’t bring them to church, we will bring church to them,” confirms parishioner Pontes. Although most of the visitors to RD Rock did not go to Mass, some of them were interested in asking about prayer times. The priest himself adds: “The world is not closed to Jesus.” You just have to speak the right language.

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