As you may be aware, one of my favourite places to go in Glasgow is the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Kelvingrove Park. I was born only a stone’s throw away in Partick Bridge Street, and grew up even nearer to the park in Thurso Street. Every Sunday we went to the park to play, and we never left without a visit to the art gallery, to see Salvador Dali’s Christ of St. John of the Cross; also, to the museum, to see Sir Roger the Elephant, the suits of armour, and all kinds of other delights. Nowadays I still visit the Dali, but also many other favourite paintings, among them La Faruk Madonna - three religious paintings made by a prisoner-of-war on old flour bags, for a mud chapel. I also like to visit the Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style gallery, and anything new that catches my eye as I walk around.
I was there last week with a visitor, and one of my reasons for going was a curiosity to see an exhibition of photographs of Glasgow from the 1950’s to the 1990’s by a photographer called Eric Watt. The photographs were mainly taken on the streets, capturing images of people in different parts of the city, and especially of children at play in streets and parks. Having been born in 1951, I imagined that many of the depictions would strike a nostalgic chord with me, and I was right, the images took me right back to my childhood and early years growing up. The photographs were categorized into various themes and I noticed how the people who had hung the display had been careful to strike a balance, so as not to offend either side of the sad Glasgow divide. For example, in the section on Faith, the first photograph was of a young girl making her First Holy Communion. The balancing photograph beside it was taken at an Orange Walk. I would have thought there could have been something more appropriate from the practice of the other Christian faiths to strike a balance, and that the Orange Walk might have been better in some other section. It’s hardly comparable with the Holy Eucharist, is it? In another section, which was either Sport or Leisure, I can’t remember exactly, there was a photograph of two Celtic supporters joyfully celebrating, and the balancing photograph below it was of Rangers supporters boarding the Govan Ferry at Partick to head over to Ibrox for a match, all men, all wearing shirt and tie, as was the way of things then. I was first drawn to this photograph because I couldn’t even begin to count the number of times, as a family, we boarded that same ferry to head over to see my dad’s family, who lived in Govan. But then I realized that the photograph was taken on 2nd of January 1971, the date of the terrible Ibrox Disaster, when 66 people lost their lives in a crush. When I looked at the photograph again, it was to wonder if any of those men boarding the ferry were among the 66. Such tragedies transcend rivalries. There were many other brilliant, funny, and evocative photographs, and I would recommend a visit. I think it runs until October. Just tell them who sent you, and tell them to send me the commission. We also went to the Burrell Collection, re-opened after a five-year closure for renovations and expansion. It was a long time, but well worth it.
Father John is settling into his ministry again, and in mid-June we will welcome yet another Passionist who will be new to you, Brother Conor Quinn, who will spend around six weeks with us until the end of July. Conor is from Newtownhamilton in Newry, County Down. He has been with us for a number of years now and, for the past few years, has been studying Theology in Chicago. He is coming home to profess his final vows in Holy Cross, Ardoyne, and St. Mungo’s has been asked by our Provincial to welcome him for a pastoral placement in the lead up to that. After final vows, Conor will return to Chicago to complete his studies and to be ordained a deacon. Sometime within the next year or two we hope Conor will be ordained as a Passionist priest and, who knows, perhaps even return to St. Mungo’s again.
So, as always, protect yourselves, protect your loved ones, and protect Christ in your lives.