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Parish priest Fr Ray Kelly shot to fame overnight after a
video of him surprising a wedding couple with his soulful
rendition of Hallelujah was posted on YouTube.
The video has attracted
41 million views and
Fr Ray recently released an
album Where I belong,
recorded by Universal Music
at St Brigid’s Catholic Church
in the small manufacturing
town of Oldcastle. The album
features 12 songs,
including Hallelujah, backed
by a 200-voice choir
comprised of local residents.
Answer the question below and send in your answer
with your name, address and day telephone number
by mail to: Mary Coombe, Diocesan Centre,
39 Wakefield St, Adelaide 5000 or
Who is the UK theologian and preacher from
Blackfriars, Oxford who visited Adelaide last month?
First five winning entries drawn will receive an album.
Entries must be submitted by close of business May 18.
WIN AN ALBUM
Father Ray Kelly has been a Catholic
priest for 25 years and has always loved
to sing but when he decided to surprise a
wedding couple with his tailored rendition
of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah on April 5
last year, his whole world changed.
One of the guests at the wedding decided
to upload to YouTube a video of him
singing, and cheekily winking, to bride
Leah and groom Chris. Within a few days
over a million people had seen it and Fr
Ray was flooded with inquiries from media,
record companies and management teams
from all over the world.
This culminated in Fr Ray striking a record
deal with Universal Music, the biggest
music company in the world, and the
production of his first album Where I
Belong, backed by a choir of 200 local
But Fr Ray has made it clear to everyone
that he isn’t giving up his job as parish
priest in the County Meath town of
Oldcastle. His producers even built a
recording booth in the lounge of his house
to enable him to attend to his parish duties.
Born in Tyrrellspass, County Meath, in April
1953, Ray moved to Dublin and worked in
the civil service until 1982 when he joined
the seminary, and he was ordained in 1989.
Fr Ray told The Southern Cross he never
thought his wedding song, which has
now been viewed by more than 41 million
people, would reach the “four corners of
“I have been singing at many of my
liturgies, weddings, funerals and Sunday
Masses for many years now and people
normally expect it, which is fine with me,”
“On the Tuesday after the wedding Chris
and Leah sent me an email prior to their
departure for a honeymoon in Mexico,
thanking me for the lovely service and
liturgy and especially for the surprise they
got with me singing Hallelujah. They told
me it was up on Facebook and sent me the
link. I hit the link and lo and behold there
I was singing Hallelujah, I was in shock at
Fr Ray said within an hour people started
calling him to tell him he was on Facebook,
YouTube and Twitter.
“That continued all evening and into next
day before the media from all over the
world were phoning for interviews and TV
appearances,” he said.
It wasn’t the first time Fr Ray had sung at
a wedding and he is sure that he told Chris
and Leah at their rehearsal that he was
going to sing Hallelujah but he assumes
they didn’t hear or understand.
He said before becoming a priest he had
dreamt of a singing career but this was
overtaken by his priesthood until people
started asking him to sing at parties. “I
loved to oblige,” he said, adding that
he gradually brought his singing into his
clerical duties through Sunday Masses,
weddings and funerals.
Now that the whole world knows about
his talent, it’s a matter of finding a balance
between his priesthood and his singing
“The people of my parish of Oldcastle
are so proud of their parish priest being
propelled into the limelight; as they say, it
is putting Oldcastle on the map,” he said.
Asked if it has caused him any problems,
Fr Ray said he had been very fortunate to
have a very supportive bishop who was
“100 percent behind me, as are all the
priests in the Diocese of Meath”.
“I have been fortunate to be able to get a
priest to cover my work while I am away as
well so there are no problems in that way,”
Not surprisingly he has had “lots and lots
and lots” of requests to marry couples,
which isn’t a problem if they are in his
church in Oldcastle. “If I get requests
to travel I usually have to decline those
invitations,” he said.
His video has brought joy and smiles to
millions of people, and many have likened
it to the way Pope Francis is reaching out
to his flock.
“I can only say that for me to bring such joy
to people on their wedding day can only
be a positive thing for our Church because
people will see us priests as just ordinary
guys doing the best we can by making
others feel special and loved,” he said.
“We are all on this journey together to
encourage each other and affirm each
other that we are all beautiful, talented,
gifted people with the possibility of doing
great things for each other.
“And there is no better way to give glory to
God than by doing that.”
View the original YouTube video at
Giving glory to God via YouTube
By Jenny Brinkworth
You are invited
to celebrate the
Archbishop Oscar Romero
Sunday, May 24
St Patrick’s Church
For more information contact:
T: 08 8210 8220
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