Luke Kelly is a sportsman and has a well-known name. He shares with his father, Joey Kelly, not only a love of pushing himself to his physical limits, but also his Christian faith. In an interview with katholisch.de, he explains how his life has been shaped by God - and what his grandma has to do with it.
Question: As a public figure, you are very open about your faith. You don't often see that in the German media landscape. Why do you do that?
Kelly: I am very proud of my faith. I fell off a high bed when I was four years old. The doctors told my family that I only had a small chance of survival. I was prayed for and masses were celebrated. My family is very Catholic. I survived the subsequent operation on my skull without any major restrictions. I firmly believe that God has given me a second chance.
Question: Have you ever thought in later life or in sport that God has helped me now?
Kelly: Mostly it's encounters with other people where I always realise that the encounter was actually very unlikely - and yet it happened. On the Panamericana, for example, I met Carlos, a Mexican who looks after the homeless with his mother. It always touches me to meet people who are still doing God's will today.
Question: You don't keep such experiences to yourself, but share them publicly time and again.
Kelly: I think that many people have lost their faith. When I tell people about my experiences of faith and thereby bring God closer to them, I fulfil my task as a Christian. I live in a very Christian environment myself, where there are many young people my age who seriously believe in God. I want to pass on this fire of faith.
Question: What does it mean to you to be a good Christian in this day and age?
Kelly: People should take time to listen to each other. I realise that many people my age have become superficial. I want to be there for people with their worries; a sorrow shared is a sorrow halved. You can help just by listening. I don't see myself as a role model, but I do have role models in my faith. These can also be people who don't actually see themselves as Christians. I often say to them: you are such a good person, faith is already in you.
Question: How did your family influence you in this respect?
Kelly: When I was little, I often went to church with my grandma. I still go to church today, but I also consciously meet up with other Christians. Then we talk about our encounters with God and of course pray together. I have also found more and more faith through my family, in which many are very devout, and I also realise myself how faith gives me strength every day. I have a ritual, for example, and I read statements of faith to myself every morning and evening. They can come from the Bible, but I also write them myself. I remind myself that God is a good God who strives to make people better. But also that faith brings with it obligations, for example to help others when you recognise need.
Question: Lent is starting soon. As an athlete, are you able to fast at all?
Kelly: I generally have a very strict diet plan. That's why it's difficult to go without something. But you can also give up other things. For example, people or things that aren't good for you. Then you have the capacity for events where you can really make a difference.
Question: We've talked a lot about how you live your faith in your private life. What is your relationship with the official church? Are you concerned with the current situation?
Kelly: Realising your own mistakes is also a Christian thing. As a Christian, you always have to address the issue of abuse openly. You can't keep quiet about it because we have a responsibility to do better today. I am deeply shocked by the terrible offences committed by priests. We must stand up for those affected and listen to them. I have the feeling that some Catholics have not been in tune with what the Church preaches in recent years. Of course, this has also led to a major breach of trust. I can certainly understand that, but it doesn't mean that my personal faith has been weakened.