Companions of the Order of Malta are parcel perfect!

The Companions of the Order of Malta were busy in the Borders and Edinburgh over Easter distributing parcels to a variety of locations that cater for those in need.

Easter Parcels donated by the Companions of the Order of Malta to the Galashiels and Area Food Bank.

The parcels contained an assortment of clothing and toiletries, together with an Easter egg. The group has also recently established a monthly tea party in Jedburgh.

Tea Party and Bingo in the parish hall of the church of The Immaculate Conception, Jedburgh.

The Sovereign Military Order of Malta is a global Catholic religious lay order and charity that helps the disabled, the homeless, refugees, the elderly and victims of natural epidemics and wars.

In Great Britain it runs an auxiliary organisation called the Companions of the Order of Malta, a key volunteer force in delivering its charitable work.

(Left) Two Companions in Edinburgh on Easter Sunday with the Bethany Trust's Care Van, and (right) Easter Parcels donated to Volunteers4Splash in Eyemouth.

The Companions' mission is that of the Order of Malta - to care for society’s marginalised, inspired by Christian charity to help those in need.

They are organised on a regional basis, with Group Coordinators in different parts of the country.

To find out more visit


Bishops appoint Fr Nick Welsh to Scots College in Rome

A new Vice Rector has been announced today (Friday 12 June) for the Pontifical Scots College in Rome.

Fr Nick Welsh (36) was chosen for the post by the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland and is expected to begin the role at the national seminary in September.

He is currently parish priest at Our Lady and St Andrew, covering Galashiels, Melrose and Selkirk, and Vicar Episcopal for Education for the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh.

Archbishop Leo Cushley said: “The Bishops thank Fr Nick for accepting this role and acknowledge the big change in having to leave his parish to move to Rome. I am confident he will do an excellent job in forming our seminarians. It’s both challenging and rewarding and when he returns our diocese will greatly benefit from his experience.”

Fr Nick attended the college as a seminarian between 2007-14 and has a licence in Theology.

He said: “To go back to Rome is certainly an exciting thing for me. I love being a priest and it is life-giving to be around people who want to be priests. I look forward to contributing to the formation of the seminarians and helping them become good priests."

In a message to parishioners on his parish Facebook page he added: "I have been administrator here in the Borders for only two years and had expected to be here much longer. I will certainly leave the Borders with a heavy heart, remembering always the warm welcome given me as well as all of the joyful moments that we have celebrated together these past years."

College rector Fr Daniel Fitzpatrick said: “We look forward to welcoming Fr Nick who will have a key role in the day-to-day running of the seminary and accompanying students as part of their formation.

“He succeeds Fr Stuart Parkes who gave us three years of service and enjoyed contributing to the life of the college. We wish him all the best on his return to the diocese of Motherwell.”

A new priest will be appointed to the Parish of Our Lady and St Andrew in due course.

Nun’s mission to encourage young women into the religious life

A Dutch nun is on a mission to encourage more young women to explore the religious life.

Sister Mirjam Hugens FSO has been appointed director for religious vocations in the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh.

It is the first time a diocese in Scotland has created the position.

She will join Father Andrew Garden, who is the new director for priestly vocations.

Sr Mirjam (pronounced ‘Miriam’) said: “Men thinking of the priesthood usually have someone they can go to But for women considering the religious life, they often don’t know where to turn.

“I’m happy that I will now be there for them.”

Sr Mirjam is a member of The Spiritual Family The Work, a community of consecrated life who arrived in Edinburgh in 2017.

Explore it

She and Fr Garden today launched a new vocations campaign for the Archdiocese on the theme ‘Explore It’.

Fr Andrew, priest at St David’s in Dalkeith, said: “Praying for vocations, helping people to listen to God and giving people the courage to respond – that sums up our role.

“God never imposes his will on anybody so it’s about exploring and responding in freedom to his call.”

When asked by Archbishop Cushley to take up the role, Sr Mirjam gave an enthusiastic response.

“I said ‘sure!’. It’s something very dear to my heart so I’m looking forward to it.

“I was in my first year at university in the Netherlands when I prayed for help with my vocation. At first I could never talk to a priest about it because I thought he would certainly say ‘you have to enter the convent’ and I thought ‘no!’ (laughs).

“Gradually, it became clear that God was calling me to this way of life. I’m so grateful that I found my way and I hope others find their way, whatever they are called to.

“If they are called to marriage they should follow that path. Ultimately, it’s to find what God has in mind for them. They will find in their heart what the calling is. My job is to explore it and help them on their way because following his plan will make them happy.”

Fr Andrew said he feels “positive” about his appointment and added: “It will be challenging but I feel I can put my heart into it because I believe in it.”

“I want to help people. I struggled for some time with my own vocation, to have the courage to respond to it and a bit of help goes a long way. When I did eventually respond I discovered it was a very liberating thing.”

Pray for vocations!

Sr Mirjam and Fr Andrew believe a major part of their work is getting people to pray for vocations.

They have organised a monthly Mass for vocations and created prayer cards for parishioners across the Archdiocese.

It takes place on the first Monday of each month. Fr Garden said: “Without prayer we wouldn’t have any vocations. We’re encouraging people either to start praying or to continue persevering in prayer.

"On the front of the card we have the biblical phrase ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening’.

"It encourages people to listen to the promptings of God’s Grace in their hearts, while on the back there is a specific prayer for vocations.”

Sr Mirjam added: “Please pick up a postcard when you see it in your parish and keep it handy so you can regularly say the prayer for vocations.”