The New Chaplain in Town: Father Kurt

The rappin’ priest connects with students


Father Kurt giving his homily on Aug. 15, 2017 (Rebecca Strolic/NDP staff)

By Andrew Lindbloom, Staff Writer

“I don’t make songs for free. I make ’em for freedom. Don’t believe in kings; believe in the kingdom.”

Notre Dame Prep students might recognize this catchy tune from Chance the Rapper’s most recent album, “Coloring Book,” or perhaps they’re reminiscing about the homily given by Father Kurt Perera, the new NDP chaplain.

Although he personally prefers to listen to country music, Father Kurt was rapping to the song “Blessings’’ during the school’s first mass, on Tuesday, Aug. 15. Merging music and pop culture, Father Kurt, 32, was able to grasp the attention of the student body, while still delivering a profound reflection.

“It was mid-mass, and I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Heck, I even starting rapping myself,” said senior Robby Bateman, recalling the moment of the homily.

“I’ve felt welcome,” Father Kurt said his first official interview for The Seraphim. Having recently been assigned to NDP from his previous position as campus chaplain at Bourgade Catholic High School, Father Kurt is still new to the school as well as to the student body.

Image of Jesus carrying a lamb (Andrew Lindbloom/The Seraphim)

Father Kurt Jude Perera, or simply Father Kurt, was born in Malaysia in 1985. He grew up overseas until 1990, when his family immigrated to the United States, due to his father’s job, more specifically, to Phoenix, Arizona.

Growing up, Father Kurt said he was a, “shy and introverted,” child, and he openly confessed that he still is shy. He recalled the hesitation he felt as his mom signed him up for altar serving classes in an attempt for him to get out of his comfort zone. He ended up loving it.

His days as an altar boy instilled a sense of, “awe and amazement to being so close to God and to the altar,” as Father recalled. From this point on, he knew he had a calling to serve in some shape or form, however, the details as to how, were still obscure.

This was the beginning of his vocational journey.

For years, he kept the urge to serve in the priesthood in the back of his head, trying to think what was next. His feelings, however, were reassured after attending an impactful retreat his junior year of high school.

“I couldn’t think of the possibility of going to a life where I would keep thinking what if for the priesthood,” said Father Kurt. From that point on, it remained a recurring theme throughout his senior year of high school.

“Opening the new year with Jesus,” Father Kurt said, laughing with joy as he told us about the unique Catholic traditions his family adopted. He had been dating a girl in high school, and he attended a New Year’s Eve party with all of their friends. Usually he attended his own family’s celebrations. He missed the celebration, as well as the tradition of going to the chapel at midnight and praying. This was the moment when he realized he didn’t want to live a life in which God wasn’t the center of it all.

After graduating from high school, and receiving a degree from Arizona State University, Father Kurt continued discerning the priesthood. He became actively involved with his parish, and eventually applied for the seminary.

“The rest is history,” Father Kurt said, smiling just at the thought of it.

Getting to Know Father Kurt

What is your favorite color?

“Blue,” he said.

Favorite Food?

“I usually like Thai and Chinese,” he said.

How about your favorite Bible verse?

“Um, kinda funny,’’ he said. “I was looking it up to see it because I’m Catholic, you know. I know what passage it is, but I don’t know the exact verse. ‘John 10:11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep’. That was my ordination card picture, you have Jesus carrying the sheep, and behind it is that verse.’’