Hungarian Fr Zoltan Lendvai says his skill with a board can help bring teenagers back to the Church
A video of a skateboarding Hungarian priest has become a hit on YouTube, attracting over 90,000 views.
Entitled “Funny Priest Skateboarding”, the video shows Fr Zoltan Lendvai, 45, giving a talk to young people in his parish while skateboarding. The video has gained more than 90,000 views, while other videos of the same event in Hungarian have been watched more than 350,000 times.
Fr Lendvai says that there are “many ways” that skateboarding “can help bring people closer to God”, and believes his skateboarding could help encourage more young people to go to church.
Fr Lendvai lives in the village of Redics close to the border between Hungary and Slovenia. Fr Lendavi learnt to skateboard as a teenager but it was only when he became a priest that he decided his skills could be applied to spreading the Gospel. It is said that his first skateboard featured the papal coat of arms.
According to Fr Lendvai, the idea comes from St John Bosco, the 19th-century priest and educator canonised by Pius XI in 1934. St John’s attempts to educate the poor young people of Italy included the use of games. Fr Lendavi told Reuters that he feels “this is the way I can bring many people a bit closer to Jesus”.
The skateboarding may well be paying off – three teenage boys have started coming to Mass regularly in Fr Lendavi’s parish after he shared some of his skateboarding tricks with them.
But Fr Lendvai is not the only priest to try and win over the young through skateboarding. In Australia, Brother Gabriel Cortes of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate has gained similar notoriety for his skateboarding, with a YouTube video of his skateboarding taken by his brother, Brother Didacus, who is also a member of the Friars of the Immaculate.
Brother Gabriel has been skating since the age of 10, and entered the order of the Friars of the Immaculate at 17. He claims that his skateboarding provides a “real ice-breaker” with younger people, and provides “an immediate common ground”.
Brother Gabriel is not solely interested in the young, however, also visiting the elderly in nursing homes (where he believes they are “forgotten”), the poor, and those in prison. He is also involved in the Crime Prevention Committee in the Western Australian Shire of Toodyay, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, a local committee on the design and building of new skateboarding parks.