Two young tap-dancing priests from the United States are making headlines around the world after a video of them went viral over the internet.
Father David Rider and Father John Gibson both felt the call to become priests in their late teens but started dancing well before that.
“I was studying tap dance from the time I was three, but when I was around 12 or 13 years old, I saw the movie ‘Singing in the Rain’ and when I saw Gene Kelly tap dance for the first time, I really fell in love with it and I knew I wanted to be a tap dancer, and that’s when I started taking it seriously,” says Father David.
“I’m from an Irish family, I learned at a school in Milwaukee, there was a big Irish culture in Milwaukee and my sister was the first one to begin Irish dancing and I kind of followed in her footsteps,” said Father John Gibson.
The video of the dancing duel between the two was shot earlier this year during a fundraising event. In it, they can be seen taking turns trying to outdo each other while the crowd goes wild. Father David warms up the crowd with a lively tap-dance routine, only to be pushed aside by Father John’s fast-footed Irish dance.
“Everyone I talk to nowadays brings up that video, but most people are very energetic and enthusiastic about it. So it’s good to receive that feedback,” says Father John.
“I think it’s a great divine adventure that we’re on. And I just tell God every day: ‘You gave me this talent, I was ready to give it up for you, now you’ve showed me that I have to keep using it and I’m just going to ask you day by day to show me how you want me to use this to bring your kingdom forward and for your greater glory,” says Father David.
To some people, who believe it’s not appropriate for priests to dance under a crucifix and a portrait of Pope Francis, Father David has responded by saying: "We would just refer them to the Bible, where the Lord tells us to live with joy".
And while the priests dance, the sisters sing. 26-year-old Sister Cristina Scuccia, who won Italy's TV singing contest 'The Voice' earlier this year, has released her first video ahead of her debut album.
Like the original, it was shot in Venice. But that is about as far as the comparison goes. In the video, Sister Cristina, dressed in her trademark black habit, sensible shoes and crucifix, performs against a moody black and white backdrop of church spires and cupolas.
The video has been criticised as a "reckless and calculated commercial operation" by the Religious Information Service news agency, closely connected to the Italian Bishops’ Conference. But Sister Cristina insists she chose the song not to provoke but because she sees it as “a secular prayer”.
Alongside Madonna’s 1984 hit, the album features nine other covers – including Cyndi Lauper’s ‘True Colors’ and Alicia Keys ‘No One’ – as well two original songs.
Despite her growing popularity, the Ursuline sister renewed her temporary vows of poverty, chastity and obedience in July.
Sister Cristina’s eponymous album is out in November, just in time for the Christmas season.