Despite an element of sadness at the occasion, it was great to gather a big crowd of people in the hall last Sunday for Father Antony’s farewell celebration. As usual, the good people of St. Mungo’s responded magnificently to the invitation to hand in goodies, and so, there was no shortage of sandwiches, scones, cakes and biscuits, to augment the sausage rolls that we had bought from our local bakery. There were a good number of Father Antony’s family there too, many of whom come regularly to St. Mungo’s anyway. There were also great volunteers to set up, serve, and clean up afterwards. While Father Antony, a man who abhors any fuss, claimed that he was more concerned with how Celtic would fair against Hearts later in the day, I think, in truth, he was well pleased with the lovely atmosphere, and the good spirit that surrounded the event, and could see how much his time in St. Mungo’s has been appreciated.
The 12 noon Mass before the celebration was indeed Father Antony’s last Mass in St. Mungo’s, for now anyway. He spent the following day doing his last bits of packing, with the intention of leaving the room completely clear for Father Gareth to move into on his return at the end of September. That night our small community went out locally for a meal together. The following day Father Antony and his brother-in-law picked up a van and brought it back to the house to pack. He was joined by his mum, his sister and his nephew, who followed on in the car behind them to Minsteracres, to help him unpack, and to see his new abode. I’m sure they were impressed with the beautiful surroundings at our Passionist Retreat Centre, where Father Antony will spend the next few years, and that they will soon make plans to visit him, and no doubt stay over, just as they did when he was in Mexico and Rome with the Brothers of Charity. If they can make it that far, they should have no problem making it three hours down the motorway.
On that same day we had a visit from Archbishop Nolan, who is painstakingly making his way round the diocese to fraternally visit the priests and religious under his care. He took a great interest in seeing around every nook and cranny of the old Retreat at 52 Parson Street and, of course, it is still our hope and our dream that there might be some solution that allows the Passionists to return there one day. Afterwards we had a good chat in the office here, and then I brought him out to Bishopbriggs to meet Father John and Father Justinian. After that, I brought him back to St. Patrick’s in Anderston, crawling along the M8 due to the present lane closures for work on the Kingston Bridge, where he was looking forward to a relaxing night of reading. I then returned to Bishopbriggs where we looked at each other and said, now we are three, and had pizza together. However, soon we will be four again.
On Wednesday Father John and I got on with ministry at the church. Father Justinian was collected by some family members and brought down to Troon to see his brother and sister-in-law there, and to enjoy a meal together. Father John stayed on in the church to meet with our Passionist Young Team that night. I attended to my caring duties for my brother, and then had a 75-minute journey home for a journey that usually takes me 20 minutes, as Balmore Road was closed for some kind of emergency repair work, and that was on top of the endless road works that seem to be going on in Glasgow at present. Needless to say, I was frustrated and hungry when I got back to the empty house, and had a smorgasbord meal of onion bhajis, chilli con carne, and 8 squares of Fruit and Nut chocolate, washed down with a glass of milk. It wasn’t quite so relaxed a day as the lovely Wednesday off I had enjoyed the previous week.
So, as always, protect yourselves, protect your loved ones, and protect Christ in your lives.