Dancing priest Father Ray Kelly has opened up about the death of his sister and said it made him ‘angry with God’.
Fr Kelly’s sister Regina passed away four years ago after a battle with esophageal cancer.
Fr Kelly, who is competing on the current series of Dancing With The Stars, said that he wished he could have taken her place as she had so much to live for as a wife, mother and grandmother.
He told the Irish Mirror: “Like everybody, I got angry with God when I lost her too.
“I would have swapped places with her if I could because she was a wife, mother and grandmother and I felt I didn’t have that. She was needed more in life than I was.
“I had the same grief as everybody else and I still miss her. I carry a photograph of her in the wallet of my phone and every time I go out on stage, I say, ‘Come on, let’s do this and root for me’. She was the youngest of our family and now I am back to being the youngest.
“You get on with life, but the grief never goes away. Part of me doesn’t want it to go away either because it is part of my and my family’s journey.”
While Fr Kelly admits that Regina’s death made him feel angry with God, he never lost his faith.
He added: “I don’t think it made me question my faith, my faith is strong and I believe we have eternal life waiting for us.
“The death made me angry with God and angry with everyone around me. I was even angry with her as well because she died and left us.
“My parents are long gone. I was only six months ordained when my dad died and that was back in 1990 and my mum died in 2004.
“I remember his speech at the ordination dinner, he said he was so honoured and privileged that God had spared him to be there.
“He was so thrilled to be there. He was only 72, he died of a brain tumour.”
Fr Kelly also said that he is glad that appearing on Dancing With The Stars is helping him bring Catholicism to a new audience by showing a different side to priests.
He said that he believes the church needs to modernise, which could include introducing female clerics.
He said: “It makes the church and priests more approachable, whether that is couples coming to church on Sunday, having their wedding or having their children baptised.
“I always try to accommodate people as much as possible. There should be more room for women in the church but I don’t know in my lifetime will there be female priests.
“My bottom line is if we don’t do something about priesthood and celibate priesthood, we won’t have any sacraments.
“And if there are no sacraments, there won’t be a church without eucharist, baptisms, weddings and funerals.”
Written by Michael Kehoe @michaelcalling