After Sunday Evening Mass recently, Father Antony called in to the home of a lovely family associated with the parish, so as to witness some documents for them, as we are sometimes asked to do. He ended up staying much longer than expected as he was served up a nice bowl of pasta, and chatted until late with the man of the house, whom he had known from school days. Eventually he left and made his way home. Sometime after midnight, the lady of the house heard what she described as an official sounding knock on the door. She got up out of bed to answer it, the man of the house being sound asleep on a chair in the sitting room, clearly worn out by the chat with Father Antony. She opened the door to discover two CID officers standing on the doorstep. They asked to come in, by which time her husband had woken from his slumbers. They were informed that someone had reported seeing a man at their house earlier and was suspicious, especially as there had recently been a break-in at a local premises. They enquired who had been in their house earlier. The documents that Father Antony had witnessed were still lying on the table, and so the CID were informed that it was the priest who had been visiting, and showed them the documents. Satisfied, then, that their visitor was not the perpetrator of the recent robbery, they left. I heard the story from the said family first, before Father Antony, and so I delighted in telling him what a suspicious looking character he must be. He then recalled that when he arrived at the door, and was standing, waiting to be let in, someone passed by who had kept looking back at him, as if a bit wary of his intentions, and we assume this was the vigilant person who had contacted the police.
Sadly, we will soon be saying goodbye to Father Antony. The Passionists in England have diminished somewhat in recent years, and there are proceedings afoot for them to join our Province. Going back to 1927, Scotland, Ireland, England and Wales, were all one Province, known as the Anglo-Hibernian Province. As numbers increased two Provinces were formed; St. Joseph’s (England and Wales), and St. Patrick’s (Scotland and Ireland). Now it looks as if we will become one single Province again as an expanded St. Patrick’s Province. Much sooner than expected, this has had implications, and Father Antony has been asked to accept a new challenge at our Passionist Retreat Centre at Minsteracres in County Durham, effective from September. I was thinking of the first time I saw Minsteracres, heading up a magnificent driveway, lined with giant sequoia trees, and thinking how nice it would be to live there. I was heading to meetings and, as a result of those meetings, I ended up taking on the role of Novice Master for the Passionists in North Europe, based in Minsteracres. I think that Father Antony may have felt something the same when he experienced Minsteracres for the first time during his retreat in preparation for ordination a few years ago, and so he is happy to take up this new challenge, and is looking forward to living there. We will be very sad to see him go, but we can only wish him well in his new role. One of Oscar Wilde’s characters, Lady Bracknell, being rather unsympathetic towards orphans, said that to lose one parent may be unfortunate, but to lose two looks like carelessness. In the space of less than a year, I have now lost Father Gareth and Father Antony. It’s a massive loss to St. Mungo’s and I hope, as a parish, people and priests, we can respond positively and, in the true spirit of the Synodal Path, journey together, to support and encourage each other, going forward.
Out at Bishopbriggs, we also have to prepare for losing a valued member of the community. As of yet, we don’t know who will come and replace Father Antony. Our Provincial and Council have yet to come up with proposals. Whoever he may be, we hope that, among other gifts and talents he may bring, that he can cook and cut hair, and be a rabid Celtic supporter.
So, as always, protect yourselves, protect your loved ones, and protect Christ in your lives.
FATHER FRANK’S LOG WILL TAKE ITS ANNUAL BREAK NOW AND RETURN IN AUGUST.