Last week we had our Clergy Assembly over two days when all the priests came together with Bishop Brian in Oban. The highlight was, of course, the Chrism Mass on Wednesday during which the Oils were blessed for every Baptism, Confirmation, Ordination and Anointing of the Sick for the coming year. The priests also renewed their commitment to the priesthood and asked for the congregation to pray for them.
Meanwhile, the priests had spent Tuesday studying the diocesan finances, data protection and Safeguarding. Only the week before, the Bishops of Scotland had issued the new Safeguarding Manual which is called ‘In God’s Image’. On March 19th, Solemnity of St Joseph – Protector of the Child Jesus – Bishop Brian signed a decree which made the Safeguarding Instruction compulsory throughout the diocese. During the Assembly Mrs Tina Campbell, the National Safeguarding Officer, gave the clergy training in the new manual. They were also introduced to Veronica McKenna, who is our new Diocesan Safeguarding Officer. Argyll and the Isles is the first diocese in Scotland to give the clergy training for In God’s Image.
In the evening Mass was offered in the Cathedral for the deceased clergy of the diocese and Bishop Brian offered prayers for Fr Donald MacKay as well as for Fr Vernon Boutillier and Cardinal O’Brien.
On Wednesday afternoon the bishop, reflecting that he is now two years in the diocese, proposed to the priests that our four diocesan priorities should be (i) deepening of our spirituality (ii) emphasis on evangelisation (iii) systematic programme of catechesis and (iv) formation of the lay faithful. The bishop will meet with representatives of every parish to discuss these proposals while the clergy will further discuss them at deanery meetings.
The Clergy Assembly was a great success. Almost every priest was present and, as well as the communal prayer and study, there was also ample opportunities for the clergy to relax together socially – which is so important in our scattered diocese.