Well-known singing and now dancing priest Fr Ray Kelly has said he hopes his surprise appearance on RTÉ’s Dancing with the Stars will delight his parishioners and show people that priests are “ordinary guys”.
The parish priest based in Oldcastle in Meath, originally from Tyrrelspass, will line up alongside reality TV celebrity Yewande Biala – who appeared on Love Island – and Olympic gold medallist Michael Carruth.
Fr Kelly first gained fame when a video of him singing Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’ in 2014 went viral, receiving over 70 million views on YouTube, he subsequently performed on Britain’s Got Talent and at the World Meeting of Families in August last year.
Speaking to this paper he said: “As I was saying to my dancing teacher the other day, if I can put that same emotion and feeling now that I can put into a song, if I can do that with my legs I’d be doing very well.”
The priest said he enjoyed watching RTÉ’s dance show as well as BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, saying they bring light into people’s lives, which is something he wants to do as well.
“I know my whole parish here are all excited about it and going to be clued in, we’re in the bleak months of winter and if they know their local parish priest is going to be on TV on a Sunday, dancing and maybe making a fool of himself… but whatever it’s okay to do that too,” he said.
Asked whether he hoped his participation in the competition might help to encourage priestly vocations, he said: “I think it would take an awful lot more than dancing to encourage priestly vocations.
“But I think some priests play their golf, their tennis, I have my music, singing, and dancing now, I think it’s an essential element for any priest to have some outlet like that anyway. It would be great if people could see that just because I’m a dancer it doesn’t mean I can’t be a priest. We’re crying out for vocations all the time.
“I’d like to think that young people would see [the priesthood] as more approachable. Certainly I would like to think that people would see us as ordinary people. That we’re out there to help people, not to criticise, not to knock down, to journey with people and help them on the journey of life.”
He has a hectic schedule preparing for Mass, weddings and dance lessons, but he is in no way deterred from following his vocation as well as his hobbies.