During the Ad Limina Bishop Brian reflects on how the past enriches the present.
We celebrated Sunday Mass in the Scots College followed by lunch. Our two students at the Beda College, Deacon Ronald Campbell and Philip Bua joined us.. I am glad to spend time with Ronald and Philip during the Ad Limina because as seminarians and, please God, as priests both will be an important part of our diocese’s future. Please pray for them.
On Friday the bishops enjoyed a barbecue provided by the students of the Scots College. We are staying at the College and it has been lovely spending time with the students who are a very impressive group of young men. I led their retreat last September and it has been good catching up. I have also enjoyed charring again with Paul Laverty (former Scotus seminarian when I was on the staff), Joe McGill (former parishioner of St Joseph’s, Clarkston) and Ryan Black from Port Glasgow, the last town I served in. Ryan explained that the Port folk are proud that “their own priest is now a bishop” but also worry for me in my new post. Portonians are salt of the earth (but then they are blessed to live beside Greenock!) and I was touched by such sentiments. I enjoyed reminiscing good days with Ryan while emphasising how happy and fulfilled I am in my new ministry.
Of course, Bishop John Keenan’s picture of Pope Francis with the St Charles’ Prayer Bear has gone viral! I am pleased not least because I enjoyed being chaplain to the Paisley school for my first seven years as a priest.
On Saturday I was principle concelebrant at Mass for the Feast of the Archangels. Twice I was chaplain to St Michael’s Primary School in Port Glasgow. I loved visiting the school and while praying for the pupils and staff I remembered seven happy years together including beautiful Feast day Masses (and the sweets and cakes afterwards).
During these days of the Ad Limina I am very much reflecting on both my own vocation as bishop and praying that as a diocese we may together discern and accept God’s Will for Argyll and the Isles. In that respect I live in the present and look to the future. However, reminiscing this weekend on my previous ministry in Paisley diocese has also reminded me of the rich tapestry of people and experiences that graced me there, and for that I thank God (not forgetting earlier experiences in seminary – I pray for our diocesan priest and my former Vice Rector/Spanish teacher Canon John Angus MacDonald who has suddenly died – as well as all I received as a child and youth growing up. No one lives in a vacuum and it is good for us to acknowledge the positive influence of so many good people at every stage of our lives. God invites us to be instruments of his grace. Divine Providence is both mysterious and beautiful.