Encore: The Singing Priest, Fr. Ray Kelly, talks about his “Hallelujah” wedding song—UPDATED

Encore: The Singing Priest, Fr. Ray Kelly, talks about his “Hallelujah” wedding song—UPDATED April 15, 2014

He appeared on RTE’s “The Late Late Show” a few nights back.  He performed an encore of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” just as he did at the wedding, and talked about that phenomenal (and controversial) moment below.


UPDATE: Writing at Catholic Vote, Kate O’Hare offers some poignant, hopeful thoughts on this phenomenon, and what it might mean for the church in Ireland:

While questions could be asked about the liturgical correctness of singing the song—even with the customized lyrics celebrating the bride and groom—at the altar during the Nuptial Mass, it’s as if Ireland’s currently pinched Catholic heart grew two sizes upon hearing it.

…If the Catholic Church in Ireland is to redeem Herself in the hearts of the people, it may begin where it always has, with the parish priest. In this case, it’s 60-year-old Father Kelly, the pastor of Oldcastle, County Meath, northwest of Dublin, since 2006.

He surprised Chris and Leah O’Kane and their assembled friends and family with a version of Cohen’s mournful yet uplifting ballad that spoke of marital love and added their own names.

He said he’s been invited to Lithuania, Croatia and Japan for weddings, but added, “I’m not sure what my bishop would say about that.”

Kelly has released two albums for charity and is working on a third.

In an emotional piece for IrishCentral.com on April 12 – which richly deserves a click to read the whole thing –Cahir O’Doherty writes, “With the endless abuse scandals in the church and the arrogance of so many clerics still refusing to acknowledge the pain and revulsion they created, it’s a startlingly uncommon thing to see an Irish priest make himself look vulnerable nowadays.”

He continues, “So I think Father Kelly is on to something. He knows how to reach his congregation with complex and compassionate messages that celebrate their community and their faith. That’s the kind of awareness that used to make a priest what the Irish called a sagart.

“It’s also a timely reminder that it will be love and human goodness that will prevail against the exclusionary forces the event the Pope himself feels have often hijacked the Vatican and the faith.

“Father Kelly’s song was a beautiful moment, and such an Irish one, too, because it was a reminder that there’s hope for us yet. Good men can prevail against princes after all; all it takes is for one man to stand up.”

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