Spreading their message in a unique way, three priests connected with students at Knoxville Catholic High School during an all-school assembly on Sept. 24. It was Spirit Week, so students and faculty were pumped up and ready for the energetic morning program, “When Culture and Faith Embrace.”
The priests all hail from California; Fathers Joseph Aytona and Jewel Aytona are brothers, and after Father Ricardo Pineda joined the Catholic Church, he heard about the Aytonas’ unconventional method of ministry.
“Breakdancing was something I was interested in and wanted to learn,” Pineda said, thinking to himself, “I can do that.” The trio became friends through shared interests in serving God and reaching out to young people by incorporating breakdance and beatbox into their ministries.
The Aytona brothers were raised in Los Angeles in the early 1980s. Growing up, they were drawn to breakdancing and soon joined a dance crew. “It was an avenue to good, clean fun,” said Jewel. Earning multiple theology degrees, both were ordained as priests and took their ministries around the country to engage youth.
Father Ricardo felt a calling to the priesthood at an early age. Initially from San Diego, he got serious about his religious calling while attending the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.
Father Jewel kicked off the program by beatboxing, the technique of using one’s voice to mimic drums and other musical instruments; this form of vocal percussion got the attention of the kids. Performing songs tailored to deliver his message, he followed by speaking about the tenets of Catholic faith.
Concluding with a spirited display of breakdancing, all three priests had the students captivated with their moves and they invited students onto the floor to show their own moves.
Fathers Jewel, Joseph and Ricardo now mostly travel separately, spreading their doctrine to young people around the country. They don’t usually get the opportunity to come together, so bringing the trio to KCHS was a special occasion for them, students and faculty. Father Jewel noted, “It’s important to find any means to connect.”
Full story at Knox News.