The real Susan Boyle: Her parish priest’s testimony

Susan Boyle.jpgHere, from Catholic News Service, is a wonderful story about the amateur talent shocker and Internet sensation, Susan Boyle. It’s from the mouth of Father Basil Clark, her parish priest in Scotland, who says he has seen stunned faces like those of the Birtish TV audience many times before when Boyle, 47, came on the annual Legion of Mary pilgrimage to the Marian shrine in Knock, Ireland and sang:


“Anyone who sees her for the first time behaves the same way. I have never heard her sing badly, though she might lose the words if the stress gets too much,” he told Catholic News Service in an April 16 telephone interview.

Boyle first appeared before judges Simon Cowell, Piers Morgan and Amanda Holden on the ITV1 sister show of “America’s Got Talent”; it was broadcast April 11.

Her fame spread on the Internet, and in just five days she had attracted more than 15 million YouTube viewings of her rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream,” from the musical “Les Miserables.”


Part of Boyle’s attraction is that she appears to be such an unlikely candidate for stardom. She said on TV that she has “never been kissed” and has lived alone with her cat since her mother died in 2007.

According to British media, she has learning disabilities as a result of being starved of oxygen at birth. She is unemployed and, as a churchgoing Catholic, her social life revolves around her family and her parish of Our Lady of Lourdes. She also enjoys karaoke in her local pub.

Father Clark said, “When she gets up to sing it can either be wonderful or you can get the unpredictable eccentric behavior, but it is to do with the fact that she has learning difficulties.

“In a sense, there is a beautiful voice trapped in this damaged body,” he said. “It is an absolute contrast. There she was on television acting very peculiarly and the audience was expecting peculiar things to happen and then a voice of an angel comes out — and that’s Susan.”


Father Clark said that local people who knew Boyle, the youngest of nine children of a family descended from Irish migrants, were “enormously proud of her and wish her the best but they are aware of the risks she is running,” adding that her behavior has previously drawn cruel taunts from children.

“People are slightly worried about what might happen after this bout of fame,” he explained.

“I am quite worried for her,” he added. “I think it’s great at one level. It might just be the thing that will make her, but she is a very vulnerable person and it could be quite difficult.

“It is a great opportunity for her and as far as I am concerned she should make the best of it, and if it lasts, it lasts, and if it doesn’t, then it’s still more than almost any one of us will ever achieve,” he added. “It is important in sustaining her and making sure this is all a very, very beneficial experience.”


Even before reading this I was a bit worried for her, and I hope she has a strong anchor back home. Such instant fame can disorient the hardiest personalities. She has strong faith, and needs strong support. And the fact that, according to today’s update, she’s had her eyebrows plucked worried me further!

Comments read comments(26)
post a comment

posted April 18, 2009 at 9:59 pm

Every now and again God manifests His Love for us by opening the mouth of someone humble enough to be transparent so that we may see His face and hear His voice and celebrate the beauty of humanity. Sing on Susan, our ears and hearts are open and may you be protected by His LOVE, your imperfections simply at to the beauty of the diamond of a soul you were created to be. From one flawed stone to another, Sing on and keep giving God the Glory.

report abuse

Mere Catholic

posted April 19, 2009 at 12:16 am

I share your worry for her. Not because of her, but because the miscreants who have ill-treated her thus far in life will likely be replaced by music industry vultures. She seems like such a gentle soul that once can imagine her being easily exploited. I hope God will protect Susan who is seemingly one of the least of our brothers, of whom Christ once spoke.

report abuse


posted April 19, 2009 at 12:49 am

I thought she was interesting and beautiful and I think that this will be the beginning of a brand new life for a very unique and God loving woman. And if God be for you who can be against you. I thought she showed strength and courage. When she first came out on stage and everyone was laughing and making fun of her, I felt tugging at my heart and started crying, not only for her, but that I could relate. When I was at a young age I never would go and do any resitals I would end up quiting or not even telling my mother I had one. And I took at least three years in it. I guess my dance instructor knew it to. I always wanted to try out for drama and plays, but couldn’t. I seen soo much talent and beauty within that I know she will make it. And that anyone that comes against her will not even phase her. She showed everyone what a sensation she will be and they can’t take that away from her so they mine as well get use to her. She will be in my prayers and I know I’ll be reading one of her autobiographies one day soon.

report abuse

Your Name

posted April 19, 2009 at 3:31 am

As the old saying goes “You can’t judge a book by its cover”. I feel those of us who listened to Susan Doyle found that to be profoundly true. To me she is absolutely wonderful. I just love her bravery and humility. To be able to get up in front of all those people and to sing like an angel was definitely a gift from God. I believe that God is allowing this for her at such a time as this because she is such a selfless creature and has done and is doing so much good for so many people. Taking care of her mother for all those years. She is truly a blessing. I don’t know how many times I have played that song over and over again and just cried because it is absolutely beautiful. I sing to but nothing like that. That is purely annointing from the Holy Spirit of God through her. I pray that she will keep up the good work and be very successful and most of all happy.

report abuse


posted April 19, 2009 at 10:27 am

Hopefully someone will assign her a more worldly gatekeeper who will keep the crazies and gold diggers and music industry vultures away from her. The poor woman could so easily be destroyed or used up and then tossed away when the media has milked her story for all its worth. With the right marketing, I think she could have a real career on a certain circuit: Branson, Missouri, maybe, or religious festivals or large gatherings where the audience is middle-aged or older. Her voice reminds me of The Sound of Music. That’s the kind of audience where her lasting career will be, not as the curiosity of the moment. But she needs a manager who will keep her from being exploited.

report abuse

David Stewart

posted April 19, 2009 at 2:39 pm

Does any of her siblings live nearby? I hope she has some family or really trusted close friends to protect her from this ugly world. I just hope she is not taken advantage of and that we can get a album produced so she can have a better life. I am not saying she is not happy with her life now but she deserves more.

report abuse


posted April 20, 2009 at 8:17 am

True believers should pray for her. May she perform for the glory of Christ in love and peace worldwide.

report abuse


posted April 21, 2009 at 9:14 am

May OUR Lord GOD care for and keep her safe! She has gone on TV is UK and US, I Love Her and hope that he’s OK and will be! She’s taught us all do to fall for your or mine ideas and silly one’s at that!! We must look inside, much deeper and deeper inside, to find compassion and understanding, for all human beings!!!! This is one of the ways we all get stronger and better people; through understanding and compassion, not just empathy! God BLESS US ALL, and Susan is in my prayers, Humble yours, Rebecca in Tucson, AZ

report abuse

Tom Setka

posted April 22, 2009 at 9:45 am

Father seems to have two issues confused. A learning disability is just that. If a person has behavioral problems, that is another matter entirely.

report abuse

Your Name

posted April 22, 2009 at 12:15 pm

I am very worried for her. But a lady can have her eyebrows plucked and her dress sense improved without it being a total rejection of her old self and as long as it’s her decision. I know when I wasn’t working I dressed and cared about my hair, etc., differently then when I got my job and dressed appropriately and groomed myself for the workplace. Why wouldn’t she, if this is her choice. People will say, yes but is it her choice or are “they” forcing her to do this? I say, trust Susan. She seems to be very level-headed despite the overwhelming attention. She is taking this all in baby steps, as she should, so let’s trust her, pray for her, and pray for her protection: body, mind and soul.

report abuse

Mike Waters

posted April 22, 2009 at 3:55 pm

The first time I heard her I said that it was a voice of an Angel. After listening to her over and over and her other songs, I am sure that this God Given talent will go far. I pray that those that would prey on her success be held back away from her and that Our Almighty Father God protect her and guide her. She is truely inspirational to me. Thank you God for such talent that you have given. I would love to hear her sing Ave Maria.

report abuse


posted April 23, 2009 at 12:05 pm

Let the woman alone and quit picking on her!
She is just now discovering herself, because of
her God given talent.
We should rejoice for her, God has brought her
thru, and nowo she has a new life. This is all
God bless her!!

report abuse

Your Name

posted April 25, 2009 at 1:24 am

Last night I lay in bed trying to make sense of the phenomenon – Susan Boyle. It is my belief that Susan was sent to mankind as special gift from God. The very existence of God is manifested in her singing voice. As millions can attest to, no one in the whole of their entire lives has been able touch them so deeply with only the power of the voice. As we know God works in mysterious ways. Why Susan’s voice wasn’t reveiled to us at an earlier time we can only guess. Now that we are aware of this gift from God we must do everything we can to preseve and protect it for Susan was given to us in a fragile package. To me the most amazing thing is that the judges, and the audience of Britain’s Got Talent who prejudged and condemed her before she had a chance to sing will in a thousand years be forgotten as if they never existed, but men will still be listening to Susan’s angelic voice as it stirs their souls. Susan we know God is with you, He sent you.

report abuse

Your Name

posted April 26, 2009 at 10:55 am

Susan Boyle, the lady with a powerful voice that has touched the hearts of countless millions in such a short time!!! May the critics be touched in their hearts to praise her and be grateful for the innocence and purity she shares with a world lost on materialism; selfishness, greed and the need to tear down others to build up themselves, politically or otherwise! God bless Susan and her remarkable talent for singing…..the tears are always surface when I hear her powerful voice singing…..”I Have A Dream”……I truly believe she has accomplished the dream that she has of becoming a famous singer! May her talent and joy of singing never be tarnished by money and those who would surround her trying to make a buck!
I will treasure the day when she sings, “God Bless America” ….we need her voice!

report abuse


posted April 28, 2009 at 3:05 am

All this fawning over the talent of this woman is disturbing. That people repeatedly watch her youtube video and are surprised at her talent is a reflection of how we judge people on appearances. Had she been “beautiful” in the modern media sense (i.e., young, physically fit and with model-like looks), her talent would not have been a surprise. But, my goodness, how can someone that plain-looking possess such a wonderful gift? That doesn’t fit in with what we’ve been taught in the media!
While we should celebrate and enjoy the talents that God has given her, we should be ashamed of ourselves for the surprise we experienced that such beauty could come in such a “common” package.

report abuse

Your Name

posted April 29, 2009 at 3:16 pm

That’s some sham of a priest making the comment of, a voice trapped inside a damaged body. Shame on him. How is she damaged? She had great poise on stage. I saw no problems with her movements or vocalization??? Let take a peek at this Father and see what there is to criticize about him.

report abuse


posted June 21, 2009 at 6:39 pm

How disappointed I am with this article. I can’t believe you think she is brain damaged and eccentric just because she likes to do the little
wiggle dance. Its just a joke.I think you just don’t understand her sense of humor. Well she will prove you wrong. I have watched all her interviews and
I think she is smart,funny,talented and endearing. And I love her knew look too. What is wrong with plucking your eyebrows? I love this woman and I find your words insulting.
Now I see why she feels the need to prove herself.

report abuse


posted June 21, 2009 at 7:13 pm

You have to be kidding. She plucked her eyebrows and that substantiates your theory of a person with disabilities? She does a jig and that reflects a disability? I see Susan Boyle as a very wise gal with a great talent. She may have what you refer to as eccentric behavior but I see it as an expression of her creative self. I’m assuming and hoping that you won’t see it ethical to take any of her money. Please, at least have that respect for your “profession”. In all honesty, this woman has been abused all of her life. Guess what, you’re one of the abusers. Susan is a creative individual. Your parish/community does not deserve her. I hope she gets away from you fast and surrounds herself with people that will support and respect her for who she is. Clearly, you don’t have that capacity.

report abuse


posted June 21, 2009 at 7:27 pm

I don’t think she has a damaged body and there is nothing wrong with plucked eyebrows. She is a gifted lady and I believe God is using her. Jan

report abuse

Your Name

posted June 21, 2009 at 8:15 pm

Talk about losing credibility … “damaged body” and heaven forbid the woman had her eyebrows plucked. Let’s take a poll and see how many of Father Clark’s parishioners pluck their eyebrows. I must say I’m astonished at the judgemental attitude displayed by this man. Maybe someone needs to explain to him that times have changed and statements like this only display an incredible narrowness of mind. There are many issues of much more importance to occupy his thoughts, maybe she should try it.
By the way, it would seem to me that something of much more value would be if Father Clark would attempt to teach some of the children of his parish about kindness and about how bullying is undoubtedly a sin.

report abuse


posted June 21, 2009 at 9:08 pm

I am a “lapsed” Catholic, and some of the comments in this piece only reinforce the rightness of my decision to distance myself from the Church. How appalling that a priest would casually gossip — there’s no other word for the nature of his comments — about one of his parishioners. Does he, perhaps, think his comments would not hurt that parishioner if she were to read them? (Or does he, perhaps, believe that she wouldn’t understand them, in light of her “learning difficulties?”)
For shame.

report abuse


posted June 21, 2009 at 9:19 pm

One further thought, as a Priest, do you have the right to express this type of information? I don’t agree with your observations but as HER Priest aren’t you bound by legal rules of confidentiality? Are you not concerned with the harm that you have caused her by expressing your point of view. I think you’re just needing a little attention on the back of Susan Boyle. I hope she sues you. You crossed the line on this one.
The whole world is watching Susan Boyle. That includes people at the highest levels of government. I think your commentary was inappropriate and illegal.

report abuse


posted June 21, 2009 at 10:13 pm

Once again I would just like to point out that it would seem to be much more in keeping with Father Clark’s “calling” if he were to spend more time with the children of the parish and teach them the Christian values of love and charity so that they will not bully and harass a kindly lady, rather than concerning himself with the outward appearance of of said lady. Apparently these children have less than admirable role models to learn from, he might want to concentrate on these more important issues.

report abuse


posted June 22, 2009 at 2:32 pm

I am very disgusted with Father Clark’s comment. “He is worried Susan is plucking her eyebrows”. Well, there’s nothing wrong for her to pluck her eyebrows. Is Susan committing a sin/crime/adultery by plucking her eyebrows?. Did she break one of the ten commandments committing an adultery? Father Clark broke one. He sinned. Thou shall not kill! He’s indirectly killing Susan’s image by characteristically assassinating her by his words, deeds and actions. Susan is a wonderful lady full of respects/trusts for the priests. She’s a devouted Catholic spending years and most of her life in doing voluntary work for the church. And the so called priest stab her at the back gossiping about her which is none of his business. So ungrateful indeed. If Susan read this story, it will surely break her heart. And she’ll scream at him. Well, we cant blame her. Cos she was provoked. The blame is on the priest himself. For he caused her stress. Father Clark should concentrate on his priestly missionary work, to help the poor and the needy. And should not involve in parishoner’s private life which should be kept strictly confidential. Susan has millions of fans around the world watching and protecting her. So Father Clark keep your big mouth shut. We fans are her watchdog for any bullying and should anything happen to her, we shall rise up against the tabloids, media. Dont mind people’s business. Mind your own business. It’s a shame a priest GOSSIPS! Lead by example please.

report abuse

Jeani Johnson ( JJ )

posted June 22, 2009 at 3:14 pm

SHAME on a PEIEST – (AND Susans OWN Priest) for judging and insulting her in public!! I CAN NOT believe what I read!! Susan is NOT damaged in ANY way!!! Because her GOD GIVEN BEAUTY SHINES THROUGH and THAT makes up for a learning problem which really DOESN’T SHOW! HOW DARE YOU say ANYTHING bad about her, especially with her being one of your members. And have you EVER told the REST of your members that THEY SHOULD NOT PLUCK THEIR EYEBROWS!? I am sure that MOST of the women in your church DO the same thing! And MOST of the women in the WORLD do too! AND Susan needed it! You SHOULD want what is best for her!
I think YOU are JEALOUS!
Here is one back at you Priest – In the 23rd chapter of Matthew, Jesus tells us to NOT call ANY HUMAN – FATHER nor RABBI! So shame ON ALL who let their self be glorified so highly, because that title is ONLY for GOD! I don’t even call my Dad that, and I will never call a Priest Father – they SIN JUST as much as ANY OTHER HUMAN! I never knew a good one yet! Maybe YOU better go to CONFESSION!!… JJ :(

report abuse

David Boyle

posted September 9, 2009 at 4:12 pm

I’m not sure what the motives of the so called Catholics quoted in the above reports. It seems to me Father Clark said nothing wrong in his comments regarding Susan Boyle. She is a plain person with an extraordinary singing voice. As far as I can tell she is well adjusted to her place in life and apparent closeness to her Catholic faith. There seems to be a pattern here to disguise trashing a Priest and the Church by defending Susan Boyle who needs no defending. I believe she sets a good example to all of us.

report abuse

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to and may be used by in accordance with the agreements.

Previous Posts

More blogs to enjoy!!!
Thank you for visiting Pontifications. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Faith, Media and Culture Prayer, Plain and Simple Happy Blogging!!!   ...

posted 2:38:01pm Aug. 27, 2012 | read full post »

Moving on, and many, many thanks... recent vacation and related absences also coincided with an offer from to cover religion for them, as editor Melinda Henneberger announces here in her roundup on the site's very successful first 100 days. That ...

posted 8:29:24pm Aug. 02, 2009 | read full post »

Calvin at 500, Calvinism 2.0
If you thought you knew John Calvin--who turned 500 last week--you probably don't know enough. For example, that he was French, born Jean Cauvin. And if he was in fact scandalized by dancing, he was also a lot more complex than that. I explored ...

posted 11:53:35am Jul. 16, 2009 | read full post »

Apologia pro vita sua...Kinda
 In my defense, I've had computer outages and family reunions and a few days of single-parenthood, which is always a bracing reminder of what many parents go through all the time. And this weekend it's off for a week's vacation. Anyway, ...

posted 10:51:36am Jul. 16, 2009 | read full post »

When Benny met Barry: "I'll pray for you!"
The first word via Vatican Radio and first image (that I saw) via Rocco: Speaking to Vatican Radio, Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi said "moral values in international politics, immigration and the Catholic Church's ...

posted 12:54:28pm Jul. 10, 2009 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.