It has been a case of trial and error these past few days as I seek to find alternative routes to Drumchapel from St. Mungo’s to perform my caring duties for my brother. Normally, I would take the Clydeside Expressway, but that route has been closed off due to COP26. I have no complaints. You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs, and I am willing to accept such a minor inconvenience so that this hugely important event can take place in our dear Glasgow. Hopefully, in years to come, we will look back on Glasgow as being the place where a major breakthrough was made in the commitment to take care of our planet, in order that this world of ours can be passed on in all its beauty, to our children, and to our children’s children. On Sunday I went via the Maryhill Road and that seemed fine, but I wondered what it would be like during the weekdays. I found out on Monday, as my journey took me a whole lot longer than the previous day, and it has taken a bit longer still, each day, since then, so I have resolved, when possible, to leave a little earlier each day until things get back to normal.
Out at the Passionist community house in Bishopbriggs, we are bracing ourselves for Father Gareth’s departure. This past couple of weeks he has been packing his books away into big
storage boxes and placing them in the spare room. Father Gareth is a man of many books, and most of them are big books - big books for a big man. A lot of his books are sacred scripture commentaries. As people will know from his sermons, of which there are usually about five in every Mass, Father Gareth loves the scriptures, Old Testament as well as New Testament, and he can remember the most obscure of details to expound with evangelical zeal. He would have made a good tele-evangelist in the mould of Billy Graham. He had also been packing his XXL clothing into storage boxes as well, so the spare room had filled up with his stuff.
There is, I think, a removal company called Two Men and a Van, but, last Monday, it was Two Men, a Priest, and a Van that arrived from Belfast. The men were parishioners of Holy Cross Parish; the priest was Father Frank Trias, known to most of you, I’m sure, who is an assistant priest in Holy Cross. It was Father Frank who had arranged the trip with the two men and their van which killed, not just two, but three birds with one stone. Father Frank got a lift home to see his mum; Father John Varghese had his stuff brought over. (Father John is the Passionist from India who will become part of our parish team here in Saint Mungo’s once we have finalized Home Office approval), and Father Gareth had his stuff taken over to Holy Cross, his new home. I’m sure Father Gareth and Father Frank together, working in Holy Cross, will bring a bit of new life and energy to the people of North Belfast, under the guidance of Father John Craven as parish priest. So, there will be an Irishman, a Scotsman and a Welshman. No doubt Father Gareth will find a joke or ten in there somewhere.
Sadly, we have been unable to hold any proper farewell for Father Gareth. Covid rules for church halls are the same as for restaurants. That would have meant having to take track and trace details; people having to be seated at tables, and any food brought to the tables; masks would have to be worn if people were moving around or going to the toilet. The numbers we could have coped with safely would come nowhere near the number of people who would have wanted to come, and there was no way we could make distinctions on who could or couldn’t come. All of which suits Father Gareth well as he really does want to go with no fuss at all. Hopefully people will find their own opportunity, and their own means, to say goodbye, and to wish him well. St. Mungo’s will be a much quieter place without him.
As ever, protect yourself, your loved ones and others, and protect Christ in your lives.