Last Sunday, the Solemnity of Christ the King, I concelebrated the final Mass in Saint Roch’s, Garngad, celebrated by Father Thaddeus, the parish priest. That same afternoon he would leave the parish, and then the following day would return home to Nigeria, to his home diocese, to resume his ministry there. It was a very poignant occasion. The church was quite full as the two usual Masses had been combined into one for the occasion, and also, there were people there from other parishes who had come to say their farewells, especially members of the Nigerian community in Glasgow to whom he has been chaplain these past few years. After the Mass, as we stood at the back of the church, there was genuine emotion as people greeted Father Thaddeus for the last time. He was obviously a much-loved pastor.
Although he had been in the Archdiocese of Glasgow for the past thirteen years, he had only taken over as parish priest of Saint Roch’s shortly before I came back from Dublin to take on the same role in Saint Mungo’s, back in 2016. I remember meeting Father Thaddeus at a deanery meeting shortly after that and giving him a lift home afterwards. He struck me then as a good, holy, genuine man, and priest, and that impression never changed over the years. Back in 2019, when we were doing some restoration work here in Saint Mungo’s, he was very helpful in offering Saint Roch’s for funerals, and for any other occasion where we might be in need. But then, he himself had to go into hospital for surgery, requiring significant recouperation time afterwards, and so we found ourselves, at that time, looking after both parishes for some months, until he was able to return. During that time, we got to know the people, and they got to know us, to some extent at least. And that has proved serendipitous now, as last Monday, the day after that final Mass, I was appointed parish priest of Saint Roch’s, as well as of Saint Mungo’s, and the Passionists assumed pastoral responsibility for the parish. There is a certain logic about this as, at some time in the distant past, Saint Roch’s had been founded from Saint Mungo’s, and so it seems that things have gone full circle.
On Monday morning I arrived to say the 10 o’clock Mass in Saint Roch’s, realising that it would take some time to get a feel for how things work there, as no two parishes are ever the same, things will always be done differently. Looking after a parish for a few months, and taking over a parish permanently, are two very different things, and we, the Passionists, and the good people of Saint Roch’s, will need to be very patient with each other as we feel our way forward. Having said that, the welcome that we have received, even amidst the sadness of Father Thaddeus’s departure, has been warm and sincere, and the people seem genuinely delighted and grateful that we have taken on this responsibility. In these times, when there is a whole process of reflection and review going on throughout the Archdiocese, a process called Pathways to Change, with, understandably, certain elements of uncertainty and anxiety surrounding that, as well as elements of anticipation and hope, the fact that pastoral ministry was continuing in the parish seemed to come as some relief. For the moment nothing much will change, either in Saint Roch’s or Saint Mungo’s, until we get our feet under the table, but all of this will need to be looked at going forward. We all appreciate the challenges ahead for the church, here and elsewhere, and we entrust it all to the Holy Spirit, to guide us and lead us in the way ahead. I would ask all you, kind readers of this log, for your prayers as well.
Meantime, in Bishopbriggs, we are all well, bracing ourselves for this unknown future, and facing it with an Advent spirit of looking forward in joyful hope.
As ever, protect yourself, your loved ones and others, and protect Christ in your lives.