South Florida priest encourages, engages youth through weight lifting

(WSVN) - A man of the cloth is combining a popular sport with his Christian faith. This priest lifts more than just people’s spirits.

Father Rafael Capo preaches the power of prayer. He also believes in his inner strength.

“As a priest, I preach that gospel of strength of body, mind and spirit,” he said.

Father Capo believes he has God-given strength to inspire people through weightlifting.

On his social media pages, he uses hashtags like #SwolePriest and #JackedandHoly.

“The older folks don’t get that, but the young people understand the language, and they’re thrilled to see those connections about fitness and faith,” Capo said.

The 52-year-old priest stands 6 feet, 2 inches and weighs 240 pounds. He trains five to six days a week.

With his physique, he could enter bodybuilding competitions.

“I grew up reading body-building magazines and looking up to Arnold [Schwarzenegger] and all the big guys,” Capo said. “Unfortunately, there is this perception that the fitness culture, bodybuilding, weightlifting is something vain, and some people don’t understand the connections.”

Capo does have other options to compete.

“All those fitness disciplines — CrossFit, strength training, powerlifting, Olympic lifting,” he said.

St. Thomas University was looking for someone to inspire their student athletes. University President David Armstrong called the Miami Archbishop.

“I’d like to have a priest that can engage with young people and would be very interested in being a part of our athletics and is buff as heck and can really show the kids what it’s like to actually be a good weightlifter,” Armstrong said, “and have great shape and be in great health.”

When asked if he says “God, give me strength” when doing a heavy bench, Capo said, “God, give me strength, absolutely. Body, mind and spirit, and it is the Lord that makes you stronger.”

Capo said he plans to increase his workouts with heavier weights as he adds a possible powerlifting competition.

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