Last Tuesday we re-opened St. Mungo’s after our Covid isolation period. It was good to get back, and heartening to see our faithful regulars coming in the door. Of course, nothing is ever simple these days, and our patrons had to contend with major works being carried out next to the church. It appears they have to excavate, investigate and dismantle a drain. The hole is incredibly deep, and it took me back to our church refurbishment in 2019, when we were replacing the heating pipes, reconstructing dwarf walls, and putting in the new flooring.
I remember going into the church one day with my hard hat on, accompanied by the foreman, and when I looked at how deeply they had dug down into the foundations, my heart sank even deeper, and I began to doubt my wisdom in pursuing this task at all. The foreman was very reassuring, however and, in the end, it worked out exceedingly well. I have to say that, this time too, the workmen are being very sensitive to service times, and not wanting to cause any more noise or disruption than is necessary, and I hope they will continue to be sensitive when we get to the Sacred Triduum at the end of Holy Week. I’m sure they will.
I was very saddened to hear of the death, last Sunday, of Father Jim Dean, the parish priest of St. Robert Bellarmine’s and St. Bernard’s. Father Jim was ordained in 2017, shortly after I returned to Glasgow, having previously been a permanent deacon since 2009. When he began studies for priesthood, he spent some time in Heythrop College in London where he got to know Father Gareth and Father Antony, who were also studying there at that time. I got to know him well as he was the chair, and I was the vice-chair, of the Saint Mungo’s Older Folks Centre for Wellbeing. He could always be guaranteed to keep a meeting moving swiftly along. This was usually because he was in a hurry to get back to something in St. Robert’s. He was always very pragmatic and unflustered by any issues that came up. Sadly, our final task was to work with the rest of the committee towards the sequestration of the Old Folk’s Centre, which failed to acquire the necessary grants to keep going, and to resume after lockdown. I last spoke to him as we vested together in Clyde Street, prior to the installation of Archbishop Nolan, and we sat together throughout the ceremony. He had a good sense of humour, and he enjoyed my story about the time I gave a mission in St. Robert Bellarmine’s, which of course is in Househillwood. This was in the mid 1980’s. During the mission I paid a visit to the local secondary school. The next day the head teacher called to say that some of his pupils had daubed on the school walls: Frankie goes to Househillwood. (If that’s lost on anyone, there was a well- known band at the time called Frankie Goes to Hollywood). I knew that Father Jim had health issues, but I was still shocked and saddened by his sudden death.
On a brighter note, Father John has at last completed all the necessary safeguarding protocols and has been granted faculties to minister in the Archdiocese. On the day we re-opened the church, he said his first Mass in St. Mungo’s as principal celebrant, having previously only been able to concelebrate. Immediately after Mass, he was administering the Sacrament of Reconciliation as a kindness to someone who had turned up not knowing the proper times. We are also preparing to celebrate the 91st birthday of Father Justinian this Friday, 8th April. We will let him choose the menu for our usual Friday night community meal. Sadly, we don’t have Father Gareth to organize the birthday cake, which may be just as well, as he would usually provide a cake to his own liking, rather than to the liking of whoever’s birthday it was. April 8th is also my father’s anniversary, having died on that date in 1960, while cycling to work in Consett, County Durham. It will be a day of bittersweet thoughts and memories.
As ever, protect yourselves, your loved ones, and others, and protect Christ in your lives.