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Sash prank priest plays joker again during live-stream Mass from Fermanagh church

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Service: Canon McPhillips

Service: Canon McPhillips

Service: Canon McPhillips

A Fermanagh priest who jokingly played a recording of The Sash at the end of a Mass, yesterday welcomed Orangemen "all over the world" to his online service.

Canon Jimmy McPhillips also cracked jokes in an empty Holy Cross Church in Lisnaskea.

Referring to the lockdown, he said there were four ways for people to come out of it - "like a monk, a hunk, a chunk or a drunk. So choose wisely".

And he ended the live-stream of the Mass with a song I Gotta Wash My Hands - a parody of the old Beatles hit I Wanna Hold Your Hand.

But the cleric also had serious messages, urging fairer treatment of front line workers and pleading for help for people in poorer parts of the world.

Canon McPhillips started the service by revealing that 3,000 people saw his Mass the previous week, tuning in from all over Ireland, the UK, Australia, France, India, Denmark, Russia, Switzerland and the Philippines. "It's such a pity that we cannot take up a collection," he laughed, but he pointed out that people could still donate online.

Canon McPhillips acknowledged that "a few extra" people were watching the virtual service yesterday as a result of what he called his little "misdemeanour" the week before.

At first people last week thought the priest had made a mistake by playing the recording of The Sash, but he later admitted he did it "for the craic" to brighten parishioners' moods in the coronavirus lockdown.

Fr McPhillips later rued the fact that he had received so much media attention for his prank. But he was soon back on the ball, adding that he wanted to welcome the Orange lodges of Ireland and "indeed throughout the world" who, he said, were joining him yesterday morning.

He went on: "As Father Dougal would say: 'There's nothing to beat a good Mass, Ted'."

Canon McPhillips then turned to the more serious side of his service. He called for a more equal new world to emerge from the pandemic crisis.

After his prayers and after celebrating Communion, he was joking again, saying he was so fit from all the walking and cycling he was doing that he might offer his services to the local GAA teams.

He then launched into a stand-up comedy routine. One joke was about how he went to buy an ice-cream and the vendor asked him if he wanted hundreds and thousands. "I said 'we'll start with one'," he replied.

As he prepared to play his closing music, which last week was The Sash, Canon McPhillips said: " I know you're all sitting there waiting patiently looking forward to hearing my choice of music. So here goes."

And that was the cue for I Gotta Wash My Hands to play.

Belfast Telegraph