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Priest-rapper a hit with Catholic youth at US conference

A rap-singing, grey-habit-wearing Franciscan priest with a funky gray beret reached out to young people at a national conference of Catholic youth in the United States.

Fr Stan Fortuna's concert at the Indianapolis Conference included music with lyrics touching on masturbation, pornography and sex. His songs include an eclectic blend of rap, hip-hop, traditional and jazz melodies.

The 26th biennial conference sponsored by the National Federation of Catholic Youth Ministry last weekend drew almost 24,000 teenagers and adult chaperons to hear about vocations and how, as the young church, they can be an example of hope.

At the conference, they heard Miss America 2001, Angela Perez Baraquio, and MTV "Real World" celebrity Matt Smith share how living their faith had to be their top priority despite their high-profile commitments.

Smith joined two bishops to encourage teenagers to consider prayerfully whether God is calling them to the priesthood, religious life, married life or single life. "Hello? God Calling!" was the theme for the vocations rally and concert on the feast of the Immaculate Conception.

"I'm talking to you as a young single person" trying to follow God's call, Smith said, encouraging the youths to ask, "'God, where do I go? God, where do you want me?'"

2001 National Catholic Youth Conference
Fr Stan Fortuna