Last night Fr. Paul Hackett was joined by Bishop Brian, Bishop Joseph Toal, priests of the diocese and many parishioners for a special Mass of Thanksgiving as he retired from parish duties at 88 years of age. Fr. Paul will now live with the Jesuit Community at Boscombe in the South of England.
Fr. Paul was born in England in 1930, the middle of three brothers. One day, while in the local Jesuit Church, Fr Paul’s mother knelt before the statue of St Ignatius of Loyola – founder of the Jesuits – and prayed “You can have all three of my sons if you want”.….which he duly accepted! Fr Paul joined the Society of Jesus on 7th September 1946 -72 years ago!
After Ordination, he ministered in Manchester, Boscombe, Wales (where he learnt to speak Welsh fluently and the first priest to celebrate the Easter Triduum in Welsh!) then, Manchester again before coming to us here in Argyll and the Isles. He served in Our Holy Redeemer parish, Stornoway for twelve years before coming to St Columba’s Cathedral, not only helping Fr Donald MacKay there but also covering many parishes including two six month spells in both Lochgilphead and Rothesay. Finally, Bishop Joe Toal invited him to come to Our Lady of the Rosary and St Columba, where he has so faithfully served God and the parishioners for almost nine years.
Easter Tuesday’s Gospel revealed how Mary Magdalene slowly grew to believe that Jesus had truly risen and then shared the joy of the Good News with the Apostles. Bishop Brian explained that just as Jesus had personally called Mary Magdalene to share the Good News, so too had Fr Paul. We are particularly glad that for the past twenty-five years he did so much among us. Although advanced in years, his mature spirituality and personal charisma had allowed the parish of Kingussie to develop, including the involvement of the youth. The diocese has greatly benefited from Fr Paul’s presence and we are grateful to the Society of Jesus for ‘loaning’ him to us.
Those of us who know Fr Paul, appreciate that he has many hobbies including photography, flowers and, of course, butterflies. He has an incredible knowledge and love of nature and in sharing with others he has led many to see the glory of God in Creation.
The Kingussie parishioners, and indeed the entire diocese, thank Fr. Paul for who he is and what he has done and wish him many years of happy retirement…..of which there is more than a fair chance since his elder brother Fr Peter is 93 (already in Boscombe) while Fr Mark (still working in Zimbabwe) is a youthful 82! – and that Fr Paul will continue to grow in the Lord and to share the Easter message of hope and joy.