I’m writing the Log very early this week as I will be travelling to Ireland on Wednesday, to attend some meetings in my role as Provincial Bursar for the Passionists of Saint Patrick’s Province, which is principally Ireland and Scotland, but also takes in our house and parish in Paris, as well as still retaining a link with our former missions in Botswana, South Africa and Zambia. The role of Provincial Bursar is essentially one of providing financial management to the province as part of the leadership team. It’s a role that for 25 years I tried to avoid. Having been a Cost and Management Accountant before I joined the Passionists, I kept being told it was a role I was destined for but, thankfully, there were always other, very competent people, to take it on. Then, after our Provincial Chapter in 2008, the inevitable happened, and I have been locked into the role ever since, having just been re-elected at the recent Chapter, for yet another 4 years. Thankfully we have a secretary in our Provincial Office in Dublin, who does all the day to day work, and who really has a much better grasp of all the ins and outs than I have. She is quite extraordinary and I really couldn’t do the job without her. If I ever get wind of her thinking of retiring, I’ll be sure to get in first and retire before her.
Since becoming Provincial Bursar the role has changed substantially, as there has emerged a whole host of new financial legislation that has to be meticulously adhered to and complied with to the letter. Also, as a Religious Congregation, we operate as a charity, and so we have to comply with all the various charities legislation too. As luck would have it, there are four different charities regulators for Ireland, north and south, for Scotland, and also for France, so it can get a bit complicated. But, even apart from that, the role is as far from what I used to do as an accountant in the 1970’s, as you would imagine. In those days, working in the Olivetti typewriter factory in Queenslie, I would come in on a Monday morning to find a foot-high printout on my desk from the data processing department, and somewhere in there I would find the material that was going to constitute my task for the rest of the week, whether that was at my desk, or patrolling the factory floor investigating anomalies. One of my early tasks was to do costings for the production of a new, and innovative, golf ball typewriter. That was about the height of technology in those days. Computer technology was still in the early stages and the data processing department, operating a punch card system, took up a vast amount of space on the ground floor of the factory. I doubt very much if I would be able to revive my accountancy career in these times of ever-changing technological wonder.
I almost had to cancel my trip as, last Monday, I took a quick walk into town after morning Mass, to do a little shopping. On the way back, coming along George Street, it began to rain very heavily. I was wearing an anorak with a hood, so I pulled the hood up over my head, as you do. The hood, however, obscured my vision a little, and the next thing I knew I had tripped over the pavement and was lying flat on my face, feeling sore and embarrassed. I, very gingerly, got up, and gathered in my bits and pieces of shopping. I felt a bit like the man beaten and left for dead on the Jericho Road, as people quickly passed me by on the other side, perhaps thinking I had a few too many. There wasn’t even a good Samaritan in sight. In terms of damage done, I realised I had sprained my left wrist and staved both thumbs. On the drive up to my brother’s house later on, I found changing the gears a very painful task. Father Antony kindly supplied me with some gel and a tight bandage. Within a couple of days, the healing process was well under way and now, while there are still twinges, especially when I drive, I feel fine. Fr. Gareth and Fr. Antony will ably hold the fort while I’m away.
As ever, protect yourself, your loved ones and others, and protect Christ in your lives.