'People think I'm crazy': Former DJ ordained as priest

A former radio Donegal-based radio DJ has said people think he is "crazy" for joining the priesth...
Faye Curran
Faye Curran

16.52 7 Jul 2023

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'People think I'm crazy': Form...

'People think I'm crazy': Former DJ ordained as priest

Faye Curran
Faye Curran

16.52 7 Jul 2023

Share this article

A former radio Donegal-based radio DJ has said people think he is "crazy" for joining the priesthood in his late fifties. 

After 28 years as a broadcaster for Highland Radio in Donegal, Fr Shaun Doherty decided to begin his journey into the priesthood.

He was ordained a deacon in St Paul's Basilica in Rome last year.

Now, six years later, Fr Doherty was ordained as a priest at St Eugene's Cathedral in Derry on Sunday.

Speaking to Lunchtime Live, Fr Doherty said the priesthood is something he has considered since he was an altar boy.

"I used to think it was an appealing occupation," he said.

"I went away for a weekend once to discern and really enjoyed it – the only thing that put me off was I thought I'd have to do loads and loads of studying, and I wasn't very confident, and I was quite insecure."

Behind the decks

After deciding against the priesthood initially, Fr Doherty said he moved to London at 18-years-old and fell into acting and theatre.

"I eventually came to Derry ... I did a little bit of TV work, not much, and TV commercials, a couple of little films and things, a bit of theatre, and then got into radio by chance," he said.

"I got into a pirate radio station in Donegal for a year, and then the pirates were closed down ... Highland Radio got the licence and then the rest sort of happened."


Fr Doherty said his experience on the radio has been vital to his work in the priesthood.

"If you're doing the broadcaster's role properly,  people should feel they can sort of put their trust in you and talk to you and that you will listen to their story," he said.

"Over 28 years of broadcasting on Highland, obviously, I was hearing a lot of stuff three hours a day, and everything really passed your ears.

"I think you develop skills over the years and hopefully, if you've got any empathy, you develop [that] empathy too then through your own life experiences as well.

"I feel that I can bring that into the priestly ministry now and that I can be a listener and somebody who has a heart for people."

The career shift

Fr Doherty said he decided to take the leap of faith during one of his trips to Medjugorje.

'It's a very peaceful place, a good place to go and just have a kind of space," he said.

"I had also encountered earlier in my life, a priest called Fr Neal Carlin, who was very heavily involved in the prison ministries during The Troubles and then went into the area of addiction.

"He formed a centre for people who have addiction issues, and that's called White Oaks Rehabilitation Centre, and I liked him, I liked what he did, and he inspired me.

"He never stopped, even though he knew his life was coming to an end ... these kinds of people inspire me because they live on the edge and they're tough people."


Fr Doherty said he has been assigned to the diocese of Derry and will perform his first mass this evening in Urris, Donegal.

"There's always a bit of nerves, as it should be, in the sense that I'm not sort of cocky about it," he said.

"So I'm looking forward to that, and they're all new experiences.

"Did I think I'd be doing this six, seven years ago? No. But, here you are."


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