We had quite a celebration here in St. Mungo’s last Monday for the centenary celebration of Stella Maris, formerly known as the Apostleship of the Sea. It was founded in Glasgow in 1920, and so the centenary celebrations should have been two years ago, but of course, at that time, we were in the throes of Covid and everything was postponed until now. The centenary Mass was also supposed to have taken place in St. Aloysius in Garnethill, as there was a connection between the Jesuits in Garnethill and the origins of Stella Maris. St. Aloysius would have been available in 2020, but at present it is closed for some restoration work, and so we were asked here in St. Mungo’s if we would be willing to host the event. As we ourselves have a strong link with Stella Maris at the present time, we were happy to oblige.
I must confess, though, that I hadn’t quite grasped the extent of the celebrations. Earlier in the evening I greeted Deacon Joe and Robert, two of our parishioners who are involved in Stella Maris. I knew they were bringing a bishop with them who was to be the main celebrant for the Mass, but I didn’t know who, and so, not for the first time, and I’m sure it won’t be the last, I embarrassed myself by welcoming him and asking him who he was and where he was based. It turned out he was one of our Scottish bishops, the Benedictine monk, Hugh Gilbert, who currently serves as the Bishop of Aberdeen, having previously served as the Abbot of Pluscarden Abbey. I should have recognised him, but thankfully he was a lovely and humble man who, it seems, would not expect anyone to recognise him anyway. As it turned out we had four bishops at the Mass, the other three being from India; Taiwan and Ukraine. We also had 35 concelebrating Stella Maris priests on the old sanctuary, from all over the world, as well as six deacons, one of whom, an American, made a powerful job of proclaiming the Gospel. There was a bit of consternation before the Mass as, when the booklets arrived, the first reading was seen to be in Portuguese, and we didn’t have a Portuguese reader in attendance. Neither was the reading in any of the three volumes of the Lectionary. Fortunately, I had a Jerusalem Bible in the sacristy; and so, we found the particular, and very appropriate reading in the Book of Wisdom, and commandeered someone to proclaim it in English. Later on, the Universal Prayers were in a multitude of languages, some of which I didn’t even recognise.
Before the Mass had even begun, and just as we were lining up for the Entrance Procession, I was informed by one the organizing priests that there were people in the congregation, which was also multi-national, who were asking who St. Mungo was. I was thrust forward to say a few words, which indeed were few, but seemed to be satisfactory enough. I also pointed out the statue of St. Mungo in the church, as well as the statue of his mother, St. Enoch, opposite. After the Mass there were many photographs being taken of both. All in all, I felt it went very well, very peacefully, and very prayerfully, and my new friend, Bishop Hugh Gilbert, spoke very nicely in his homily too. Afterwards, buses arrived to bring people to the City Chambers for a civic reception. The following night they would be going through it all again with a Mass in St. Andrew’s Cathedral, followed by a meal and a specially commissioned play on the story of the Stella Maris origins. Unfortunately, I was unable to join them.
Out at Bishopbriggs we are all well. Quite remarkably, Father Gareth had all his unpacking done, and his room more or less organized, before he went to bed on the night of his arrival. He made his return to the church at the weekend and it was as if he had never been away. Not even the jokes had changed. Father John continues preparing for his driving test which we all hope he passes first time and gets back on the road again. Having acquired a bicycle he now realises that there is a chance that it might rain now and again in Scotland, and so the appeal of cycling seems to have waned a bit. Father Justinian is, as ever, unbelievably well
As always, protect yourselves, your loved ones and others, and protect Christ in your lives.