Father Alberto Ravagnani didn’t even have a YouTube account a year ago, but in the last few months, the 26-year-old priest’s short videos on Catholicism and spirituality have garnered hundreds of thousands of views and made him a social media celebrity.
He began making five to 10-minute videos with titles like “What is the use of GOING TO MASS (it is not necessarily boring!)” and “TRAINING and EXERCISES for the spirit (going to the gym is not enough!)” to keep in touch with his youth parishioners, according to Catholic weekly review The Tablet.
Ravagnani’s comedic sense, quick camera cuts and relatability have turned the associate pastor at the Church of St. Michael the Archangel into a bonafide YouTube star with more than 76,000 subscribers and counting as of Thursday.
He even challenged one of his favorite Italian rappers, Fedez, who made a reference to priest sex abuse in one of his songs recently, to hear from the kids in Ravagnani’s church about their experiences.
“The tone of the line about priests is provocative, and we can’t hide that there have been scandals,” Ravagnani wrote on Fedez’s Instagram of the song lyric, according to Catholic newspaper Crux. “However…There are so many priests who do excellent work, with incredible commitment, and no one talks about them. You’re an influencer, and people listen to you: Together, we could lift up a much greater good. I’d be happy to invite you to hear from my kids what they’ve seen and what they’ve encountered in the experience of several priests we’ve had here.”
Fedez quickly responded by defending the lyric, but added, “I’m sure that, like you, there are lots of priests who do great work in the community… I don’t want to attack you, and those who work like you.”
While the rapper hasn’t yet taken Ravagnani up on his offer, the priest says he’s hopeful and will “never say never,” Crux reported.
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Of his decision to turn to social media, Ravagnani told an Italian newspaper it’s important to speak to young people where they already are.
Otherwise, he said, “we risk that the kids won’t listen to us: not because they don’t want to, but because we’re not talking to them or because we’re just telling them what everyone else does,” The Tablet reported.
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