Last Wednesday night I joined our Passionist Young Team for their final night before breaking up for Christmas and the New Year. The Passionist Young Team (PYT) was initiated by Father Gareth three years ago and it has become a very important and integral part of the life and spirit of St. Mungo’s. Many, but not all, of those who attend, are studying at one of the various colleges or universities in Glasgow. Others are working in all kinds of areas of employment. While there are some home grown Scots, others come from a whole variety of countries and continents, and bring with them a vast diversity of faith experiences and faith journeys ,which they have always been willing to share, occasionally with a bit of arm-twisting from Father Gareth, so as to build up and support one another. It has been a rich source of friendship for so many, especially those who might otherwise experience the loneliness of living in another country and culture, far away from family and friends at home.
The final gathering before Christmas always includes a pot-luck meal, to which people bring dishes reflecting the cuisine of their own countries. A wonderfully, mouth-watering spread was laid out, but still and all the prayer comes first and so, it was only after an hour of Prayer, Blessing and Adoration in St. Paul’s Hall, our temporary church during the refurbishments, that we made our way down to the bottom hall for the feast. By this stage I was ravenous, and I have to confess, when I see a spread like this, I feel compelled to try a little (or big) bit of everything. Most of the food I was putting on to my plate was a mystery to me, but it looked too good not to taste. Complemented by some apple juice, I took a place at a table alongside young people from Italy, Brazil, Columbia; the Philippines; Bolivia, France and, last but not least, Cumbernauld. Once I was sure everyone had been well fed, I took my plate up to the table once again, and topped up with a few things that I had found especially delicious.
One of the things that has delighted me during the past three years is the way in which many of the PYT have embraced the parish and been embraced by the parish. Some have become involved in various ministries; at times they have fundraised to meet various parish needs, including the recent church refurbishments; they have put on quiz nights and fun nights open to all; they were prominent at our recent jubilee dinner dance, not just enjoying the night, but also helping with the raffle and tombola; their prayerful presence at Masses and other services has been an inspiration; the friendship and support they have extended towards the Passionist community, to members young and old, has been greatly appreciated. And so, after the feast last Wednesday, we had no hesitation in asking for their help to bring down chairs from St. Paul’s Hall that now needed to be returned to the church for the re-opening this weekend. This gave them the opportunity to see the newly refurbished church. Most were familiar with the church before it closed and were delighted with the changes; a few, who had only joined the PYT last September, had never seen the church at all, and were amazed at its size and its beauty. More prayers were said and photos taken before the night continued.
There was one slightly sad note. The nature of the group is such that there are always comings and goings when college and university courses, or employment contracts, begin or end; but on this occasion we were saying farewell to a couple who have been so much a part of St. Mungo’s in a variety of ways during these past few years, giving so generously of themselves and their talents in so many ways. Both come from Sicily, but they first met in St. Mungo’s when each came into the church to pray. God, and God’s providence, obviously had plans for them, because they fell in love, and now they are going home to Sicily to be married and to settle down, and hopefully to have a family. They will take a part of us with them, and leave a part behind, including the copy of the Year of Mercy icon at the back altars, the image of which originated in the village of one of them, and was given as a gift by her parish priest.
A tutti e due - arrivederci e buona fortuna, e grazie per tutto!