When he arrives behind his decks, the crowd rushes to the stage. “Padre Guilherme! Padre Guilherme!” she chants in heart. Helmet on the ears and Roman collar around the neck, the artist clashes. For seventeen years, Father Guilherme Peixoto, 49, has been carrying out another activity in addition to his duties at the parish: disc jockey (DJ).
Yet nothing predestined little Guilherme to turn to music. He wanted to be a priest. But when he entered the seminary, the young man joined several groups: one rock, the other popular songs. And on weekends, he has a blast in a nightclub “always attending masses and classes during the week of course”, he specifies.
But this hobby is gradually shifting towards earning a living. In 2006, freshly arrived at the head of the church of Laundos, in Povoa de Varzim, in the north of Portugal, he inherited a parish in debt. He then came up with the idea of opening a bar, which he named Ar de Rock Laundos, where volunteer parishioners served drinks while others organized karaoke. Father Guilherme got into the game… and revived his old passion by trying his hand at the turntables in front of the customers. He learns on the job but wants more. The neophyte then enrolled in a DJ school to become a professional.
Here he is ten years later in front of hundreds of people – including many JMJists – in the town of Rio de Mouro, about 20 km from Lisbon.
You have to see him, dancing from one foot to the other, with his right arm gesticulating in rhythm to electronic music (synthetic sounds emitted using machines and computers). “I want to show young people a vision of the world, to tell them that on the dance floor we are all the same.” During certain melodies, the artist even broadcasts messages from Pope Francis and John Paul II. “It’s a mixture of faith, the message of God and music,” he enthuses.
But his way of life seems far from unanimous, causing some stir among some outraged faithful to see “a priest playing in a disco”. But Father Guilherme hardly erases his mischievous smile: “I have always had the confidence of my bishops and I want to continue there”, he assures us. So, the priest goes through the dialogue by explaining to his detractors that he “applies the message of François: go where the young people are”.
But beware, the man of God imposes certain rules on himself: avoid playing on Saturdays to ensure mass the next day, and if the opportunity is too tempting, he always manages to find a substitute priest. “My goal is not to desert the Church,” he insists.
At the end of the concert, the young audience welcomes him like a real local star. Everyone tries to make their way towards him to immortalize their moment with this atypical DJ. The priest in jeans and sneakers lends himself with pleasure to selfies and autograph sessions, some of which on sweaters flocked with the WYD logo! Vasco, a 17-year-old Portuguese Catholic, is elated: “He breaks stereotypes and shows that the Church continues to evolve, it’s unique!”
So, before the great mass of Pope Francis on Sunday August 6, the biggest fans will be able to find Father Guilherme. An appointment made at 7:30 in the morning! This will be his first “service” of the day, before returning… behind his altar.