Irish parish priest Father Ray Kelly gave a moving rendition of the R.E.M. song Everybody Hurts in Britain’s Got Talent last month. He even received a standing ovation from the judges and audience. The TV show featured footage of him in Ireland where he became an overnight sensation after he surprised a couple at their wedding ceremony by singing Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.
I thought of Fr Kelly’s performance on BGT when I bumped into a friend from the Sudanese Catholic community the other day. When I asked him how he was, he replied “everyone is hurting” because of Archbishop Wilson’s situation.
I had been determined to write a happy, uplifting editorial this month – something to cheer us up amidst the negative impact of the Archbishop’s trial, the controversy of the confessional and the vitriolic commentary by self-righteous media personalities. But I couldn’t get those words of R.E.M. out of my head.
Fr Kelly told the judges that he chose that song because “being a priest, you get in touch with a lot of pain, and a lot of joy and happiness as well, so it’s a song I can relate to”.
While the lyrics could be viewed as a tad depressing, the ultimate message is one of comfort in knowing that your friends are there for you and that you are not alone.
‘Cause everybody hurts
Take comfort in your friends
Don’t throw your hand
Oh, no Don’t throw your hand
If you feel like you’re alone
No, no, no, you’re not alone
I guess what touched me is that the song acknowledges the hurt and the pain; it doesn’t try to wipe it away and pretend it doesn’t exist. There are times in our lives when all we can do is be with someone, accompany them on their journey and pray for them. As the song says, everybody hurts sometimes.
To end on a brighter note, it really is worth viewing Fr Kelly’s YouTube clip – just use Britain’s Got Talent and Fr Ray Kelly in your search engine. His TV success is a much-needed good news story for the Church and, more importantly, his cheeky smile and Irish lilt are sure to warm the cockles of your heart.