On the lead up to Christmas I attended the official opening of the Sighthill Community Campus, which comprises the new St. Martin’s Primary School, combining the old St. Stephen’s and St. Kevin’s Primary Schools, as well as Sighthill Nursery. Just before the ceremony began, as I was sitting peacefully and happily in the body of the audience, chatting to some former teachers of the old St. Stephen’s Primary, I was approached by the head teacher and informed that the archbishop had not arrived, and would I be willing to give the blessing in his place. Happily agreeing, I was then, like the man at the banquet in the Gospel parable, invited from a lower to a higher place, in the front row, amongst the VIPs, and directed to a chair with Archbishop William Nolan’s name emblazoned on it. After the speeches, a video presentation, and the unveiling of a plaque, it was time for the blessing. One of the pupils had been selected to introduce the archbishop but, while she had been informed of a change of name, she had not been informed of a change of status, and so I was introduced as “His Grace”, Father Frank Keevins. Promotion at last!
After the celebration of Christmas Masses, and the fulfilment of other duties on Christmas Day, we gathered together in Bishopbriggs in the evening to have our Christmas Dinner. I had pre-ordered the food online and had collected it, without any bother, on the Friday before Christmas. It didn’t even cost us anything as Father Gareth was still in possession of a couple of M&S vouchers that more than covered it. I considered that my own main task was now accomplished. Father Justinian’s task was to set the table. That left Father Gareth and Father John as the main chefs for the day. Had there been cameras around, it would have made a great sitcom. Intense discussions ensued as they each had different interpretations of the instructions that accompanied the food, what adjustments to make for the fan oven, and what extra time should be allotted to food that would have to go on the bottom shelf of the oven, instead of on the middle shelf. By the grace of God, we somehow ended up with an edible and recognizable, traditional turkey dinner, with all the veg and trimmings, and very nice it was too. We even had cranberry sauce for the turkey, which for me is a must. I had searched everywhere in vain to get some, but then, on hearing of my disappointment, Deacon Joe’s wife Marie saved the day. It seems she always gets two of everything – just in case. Thank you, Marie! On St. Stephen’s Day, as has also been our tradition, we went to the Oregano at the Eagle Lodge, just across the road from where we live, to have a meal out. It was a simple, enjoyable meal, and very relaxing. That same evening, Father John took a bus to London where he would meet up with other Indian Passionists who are based at St. Joseph’s Passionist Church in Highgate. Unfortunately, while he enjoyed his stay, he came back with the flu, and ended up hibernating in his room for the next few days.
The traditional Keevins family gathering took place at Hogmanay in my niece’s house. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I didn’t stay for the bells as New Year’s Day was a Sunday. Feeling old and tired, I left early and was tucked up in bed before the fireworks began to welcome in 2023. I then woke with a heavy cold and have been trying to shift it since.
A brief, final note about former Pope Benedict, may he rest in peace. I remember, as rector of Mount Argus in Dublin, going to Rome with Father Paul Francis, to hear Benedict announce the date for the Canonization of St. Charles of Mount Argus. He presided at the canonization in St. Peter’s Basilica on June 3rd 2007, and declared that the Feast Day of St. Charles would be on the date of his death in 1893, which was January 5th. And now, former Pope Benedict is to have his Requiem Mass, and be laid to rest in St. Peter’s Basilica, on that same day, January 5th, the Feast of St. Charles of Mount Argus. I’m not reading anything much into it, but it just strikes me as a nice coincidence, perhaps providence – but certainly serendipity!
As ever, protect yourself, your loved ones and others, and protect Christ in your lives.