On Trinity Sunday Brother Antony Connelly celebrated his perpetual profession of vows as a Passionist. It was a very moving and powerful event for all concerned – the Passionists; Brother Antony’s family and friends; the good people of St. Mungo’s, and, of course, Brother Antony himself. It had been a long and winding road to bring him to this point. A native of Bishopbriggs, Antony is a graduate of both Glasgow and Strathclyde Universities; later there were further studies in Rome and in London. Antony worked in the Catholic Youth Office in Glasgow; then spent time with the Missionaries of Charity, ministering to the poor in Rome; Mexico and Kenya, before discerning that the Lord was calling him to be a Passionist
In his introduction to the Mass our Passionist Provincial, Father Jim Sweeney, said that this was an unusual event, outside of the ordinary routine of things, and the truth of that was evidenced by the fact that in the lead up to the profession, quite a number of people were mistakenly thinking that this was something to do with priesthood, that Brother Antony would become Father Antony, (it was, after all, Father’s day), and that the day after his profession he would start to celebrate Mass. Brother Antony will eventually be a priest, of course, hopefully by the end of this year, after having first been ordained as a transitional deacon, which is scheduled to happen very soon, but he is first and foremost a Passionist religious, and his perpetual profession of vows commits him, for the rest of his days, to dedicate his life to God, to seek perfect charity as a member of the Congregation of the Passion of Jesus Christ, and to follow Christ Crucified more closely, according to the Rule and Constitutions of the Passionist religious community.
Perhaps the part of the ceremony that brought it home to people that something different was happening here, was when a cross was placed on Brother Antony’s shoulder, and a crown of thorns placed on his head, after which the Provincial said to him, “you are now one with us as a member of this religious community…” and the Passionists who were present came forward to embrace Brother Antony with a sign of peace. Having worked with Brother Antony this past couple of years in St. Mungo’s, I found that moment very moving and real. As well as our Provincial, the Passionists present for this welcoming embrace were Father Tom Scanlon, who has been Brother Antony’s director throughout most of his Passionist formation; our student Conor, and postulants Martin and Francis, who are currently in Father Tom Scanlon’s care; Brother Antony’s classmate Aidan, who will make his perpetual profession in Dublin in September; Father Paul Francis Spencer, our Vocations Director; and, of course, the members of our Passionist community here in Glasgow; myself, Father Lawrence; Father Justinian and, last but not least, Father Gareth.
It was such a delight to have Father Gareth present for the occasion. This past eight months he has been at home in Merthyr Tydfil in the Welsh Valleys, helping to look after his mum as she went through serious medical treatment, and we are delighted to say that, in the not too distant future, Father Gareth will return to us for good. There was a danger that Father Gareth might eclipse Brother Antony on the day, which would have suited Brother Antony well enough, as he is not one to seek a lot of fuss around himself, but, at the end of the day, Brother Antony’s profession was what enthralled and delighted all present. Afterwards, there was the inevitable celebration in the hall, with sausage rolls galore, and a plethora of food provided by the wonderfully generous patrons of St. Mungo’s, and Brother Antony’s mum and family. The hall was packed, but everyone was fed, and there was still food left over to bring down to the Wayside Club for later in the evening. That same night, the visiting Passionists began to depart and everything settled back to normal. The following morning Father Gareth returned to the Valleys and I’m missing him already. Let us pray for Antony, whom God has called to follow Christ Crucified more closely in Passionist religious life.