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Dancing Priests Video Featuring Hyde Park Native Goes Viral

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By now you’ve probably seen the video: Two Catholic priests at a fundraiser in Rome engage in a dancing duel. What you may not know is that one of the clerics, Fr. David Rider, 29, hails from Hyde Park.

Fr. Rider grew up in the Dutchess town, attending Regina Coeli elementary school and Our Lady of Lourdes High School in Poughkeepsie. After graduating from Fordham University, he pursued a performing career — even landing some gigs as a dancer in some Broadway productions — before joining St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers in 2009. In 2010, he continued his study in a Roman seminary and was ordained as a priest of the Archdiocese of New York in May before jetting off to Rome to pursue his Licentiate degree in Church History, which he will receive in June 2015.

And then he became an Internet sensation. The YouTube footage of the dance-off — which features Rider and Fr. John Gibson, 28, of Milwaukee engaged in a friendly, fast-footed duel at North American College in Rome — amassed thousands of hits in no time. “It was a big surprise, how quickly the video picked up steam,” says Fr. Rider. “We threw [the routine] together really quickly. I was making up the steps to my part the afternoon of the show. We were actually skeptical that it would even work at all.”

Fr. Rider takes the stage at 0:56:

Fr. Rider, humble when approached about his Internet fame, hopes the video will help people view priests as normal. “I hope it shows that priests are men who love life. If this makes us seem more human, I’m happy for it,” he says.

But ultimately, he doesn’t want to be known as the “tap-dancing priest.” “I didn’t sign up to be a dancer, I felt God calling me to be a parish priest. It’s really what I want to do: say Mass, baptize babies, hear Confessions,” he says. “No standing ovation I ever got compares to what it feels like when I say words of forgiveness to people in Confession. If I never put a tap shoe on again, I’d be fine with that.”

After four years in Rome, Fr. Rider is looking forward to coming back home to the Valley. He jokes: “Pasta puts on a few pounds, so I’m looking forward to being back around vegetables.”

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