On this, the last week of school, we have been celebrating Leavers Masses in St. Stephen’s and St. Mungo’s Primaries. The day before the Leavers Mass in St. Mungo’s I attended the school prizegiving, the first time it had been celebrated since 2019. It was a great affair, and I was struck by the sheer number and variety of award categories, giving a real sense of just how much goes on in a primary school in these times, as compared to when I was a lad. The curriculum lays down that class awards are to be given for the most successful learner; the most effective contributor; the most responsible citizen, and the most confident individual. There were also special category awards, one of which was given to Matthew, our altar server, for his commitment to that ministry both in the church and in school. There were also group recognition awards, one of which was to the Pope Francis’ inspired Laudato Si Group who have established a relationship with the Royal Infirmary, and who recently invited the parish to help with the make-up of caring packs to bring to people in a designated ward.
The last award of the day was The Caring Cup awarded to a Primary 7 pupil for outstanding compassion and care for others throughout the school year. What a beautiful award to get!
I was thinking back to prizegiving days when I was in primary school from 1956-1963 at St. Peter’s in Partick. The rewards were more predictable in those days, but I do remember a prize similar to Matthew’s because I regularly used to serve the 7 o’clock Morning Mass at St. Simon’s in Partick during weekdays, before going to school. The prize I remember most, though, was given to me for English. The prize was a hard back copy, beautifully illustrated, of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. I can honestly say that this prize changed my life. It was the first book that I could ever call my own, and it inspired in me a great love for reading that has remained with me down to this day. When I wrote recently in the Log about the differences between reading on a Kindle, and reading from an actual book, I think that my preference for the hand-held book must also go back to the feeling I had when I held that book in my hand for the first time, and the sheer excitement and joy I received from it.
I was recalling, also, my transition from primary to secondary school in the autumn of 1963. The year before, as a family, we had to move from our tenement home at Thurso Street in Partick, out west to Drumchapel. Not wanting to change schools at that stage, I commuted each day on the number 9 bus from Drumchapel, to keep attending St. Peter’s Primary. To follow in the footsteps of my late father, I had attained a bursary to continue my education at St. Mungo’s Secondary School. For the first two years I attended the St. Kentigern’s Annexe in Duke Street; then two years in Barony Street, before finally spending my 5th and 6th years in Parson Street. So began my connection with St. Mungo’s Church that would eventually lead to me becoming a Passionist. For those six secondary school years I would have to get the number 20 bus from Drumchapel into town, and then whatever bus came first that would take me from the city centre to school. Needless to say, I was often late, which meant either the belt, or else one of the more creative punishments dreamt up by a legendary head teacher in Parson Street, who shall remain nameless. However, I have absolutely no complaints, and I don’t think I am any the worse off because of it, and I am now almost obsessively punctual.
Back in Bishopbriggs, our student Conor is settling in while awaiting safeguarding clearance. Father John is developing his ministry, but has also taken up badminton a couple of days a week, to keep fit and lose weight. Fathers Jus, Antony and myself are well, thanks be to God.
So, as always, protect yourselves, protect your loved ones, and protect Christ in your lives.