Latest viral video: Priests doing a dance-off in the Vatican*

I can finally claim to have been at the cutting edge of a viral video — because I saw this one in Rome a couple of weeks ago with one of the priests in the clip. I’m not sure that’ll impress too many people, but I’ll take what I can get. Early in my coverage of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, I attended a dinner party hosted by Relevant Radio correspondent Ashley Noronha and her husband John, who befriended me at the conclave in March 2013. Among the other attendees was Father David Rider and a few of his colleagues (including one, Fr. John Wauck [see update], who entertained us all night on the guitar). Ashley and John pulled up this video, taken at an April dinner at the Pontifical College of North America, which shows Fr. David and his friend Fr. John Gibson challenging each other to a tap/step-dancing routine — to a standing ovation among the priests, bishops and cardinals in attendance:

The North American College is where seminarians from the US and Canada go to study in the Vatican. I visited the men there from the Twin Cities on my second Sunday in Rome on the trip and had breakfast in this hall where the video was taken in April. This week, it’s going viral:

A video of a pair of dueling, dancing American priests studying in Rome has gone viral, following in the footsteps of a now-famous Italian nun whose Alicia Keys-esque voice won her a singing contest and a record contract.

The Rev. David Rider, 29, of Hyde Park, New York, and the Rev. John Gibson, 28, of Milwaukee, first shot to Internet fame when they were filmed in April during a fundraiser at the North American College, the elite American seminary up the hill from the Vatican.

Rider warmed up the crowd with a lively tap-dance routine, only to be pushed aside by Gibson’s fast-footed Irish dance. Soon they were battling it out, trying to impress the crowd.

At the back of the room, journalist Joan Lewis recorded the event and later posted on YouTube.

Fr. David told us a little bit about his dancing at the dinner party. He began life as an entertainer on stage but got the call to the priesthood. He wondered whether it would be appropriate to continue dancing, but was inspired by St. John Paul II to the priesthood and to make his dancing show the joy of Jesus Christ. Catholic News Service linked to this 2012 video of Fr. David (as a seminarian) explaining both his call and how he sees his dancing as part of his evangelization:

Of course, this is just a palate cleanser here in the middle of an exciting midterm election cycle. I can tell you, though, that Fr. David is as genuine as he seems in this video, and it was a pleasure to share an evening with him — even if we couldn’t get him to do a few steps for us at the party, as he was both a little shy and wearing a cassock that would have made it nearly impossible anyway.

* – Technically, the NAC is physically near the Vatican rather than in it, but it’s a pontifical college and part of the Vatican’s efforts to educate young seminarians.

Update: Ashley writes to correct a couple of points. First (and I knew this!), she’s the Rome correspondent for Relevant Radio, not EWTN. The priest who played guitar at the party was not Fr. Stephen but Fr. John Wauck, who used to write political speeches until discerning his call to the priesthood. He’s a heck of a musician, too.