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Priest hopes being in spotlight at Josh Groban concert can inspire good

A Catholic priest who became an internet sensation after singing at a Josh Groban concert said he attributes the incident to Marian intercession and divine providence and hopes being in the spotlight will inspire good.

The Catholic Universe last month reported how footage of Fr Patrick Setto had gone viral on social media after the priest stunned Groban with an astonishing, impromptu rendition of To Where You Are after the world-famous tenor invited him to the stage during a concert at Caesars Windsor in Ontario, Canada.

“He was taking a complete chance because I could have been a really bad singer,” said Fr Setto, assistant parish priest of Mother of God Chaldean Catholic Church in Southfield, Michigan, in the United States.

“I have no idea how or why he allowed that, but it was very generous of him,” the cleric told Detroit Catholic, the digital news service of the Archdiocese of Detroit.

Now 31, Fr Setto first discovered Groban’s music as a teenager.

“I’ve been singing all my life, and he has really always been my musical inspiration,” the priest said. “It has always been a dream of mine to be able to sing with him or sing for him or just meet him because he has really helped to train and develop my own musical skills.”

Fr Setto doesn’t think the interaction was an accident and attributes it to Marian intercession and divine providence.

During the drive to the concert, Fr Setto said nine “Memorares”, praying that he would be able to meet Groban; the prayers seek Mary’s intercession. His cousin, who surprised him with tickets to the concert, laughed and made a video of him praying to meet the singer.

However, from the ninth row at The Colosseum at Caesars Windsor, Fr Setto’s prayer was answered when, amid taking song requests, Groban invited him up to the stage after the priest shouted out telling the star that he would sing with him.

While Groban comes from a Jewish and Episcopalian background, Fr Setto said he doesn’t know whether the singer still practises his faith. However, many of Groban’s songs have an indirect spiritual message or Christian themes, he said.

Upon returning to his seat after singing, Fr Setto got Groban’s attention again by telling him he was a Catholic priest. The floored and slightly flustered Groban – who had just cursed moments before – quipped, “I am surprised that you didn’t do My Confession” – one of Groban’s songs that Fr Setto believes has a deeper, spiritual meaning.

He admitted to being surprised by how much attention the moment received – less than a week after the concert one video already had 26,000 views – but he hopes his 15 minutes of fame can inspire good.

“I really want the world to know that, as priests, we are human and we can relate. We have gifts and we want to share those gifts with the world, and that’s really a way of evangelisation,” Fr Setto said.

He said that with some current negative perceptions of priests, perhaps the video can help people understand the humanity of the priesthood and that it’s okay to love God and that following Christ is a joy.

Further, he hopes Catholics who already understand the faith will gain a deeper understanding of the power of prayer.

“I prayed those nine ‘Memorares’ specifically to meet him, and while I didn’t get to meet him how I imagined, God answers your prayers in other ways,” Fr Setto said. “He exceeds your expectations; He takes it to another level, which is so beautiful because our God is so good.”

Picture: Singer Josh Groban and Fr Patrick Setto are pictured in a combination photo. (CNS photo/Ian West, PA images via Reuters and Chaldean Diocese of St Thomas the Apostle).