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Pontifications

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!

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