WATCH: Study Catholic Theology in Edinburgh

Find out about studying Catholic theology in Edinburgh this September with our Open Evening Webinar.

It's a chance to hear from course leaders of the MA in Applied Catholic Theology. We also chat to a recent graduate of the course, and give you a whistlestop tour of the Gillis Centre Campus.

The video is divided into chapters so you can quickly find the section you want, and includes a Q&A section with attendees. Watch below or on YouTube.

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The MA in Applied Catholic Theology is a two year, part-time course hosted by St Mary's University, Twickenham, at its Scottish Campus in Edinburgh. SAAS funding now available.

Find out more at www.stmarys.ac.uk/edinburgh or email the course leader Dr Susan Longhurst, who will be happy to answer your questions susan.longhurst@stmarys.ac.uk

The Open Evening webinar was broadcast on Zoom on Wednesday 29 May 2024. 

WATCH: Corpus Christi Procession in Edinburgh

A Corpus Christi procession took place on the streets of Scotland's capital today (Sunday 2 June) as a public witness to our faith in Jesus Christ.

The procession, organised by the Archdiocese, began at St Patrick's Church in The Cowgate, before heading onto the Royal Mile, with participants singing hymns in praise of Jesus.

It followed Mass in which Archbishop Leo Cushley was the principal celebrant. Watch below or on YouTube

Archbishop Cushley said: "It's a very visible and public celebration of our Faith.

"The Corpus Christi procession is intended for the good of all the people who live here, that they may be blessed and have peace."

Catholic organisations taking part included The Sovereign Order of Malta, The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre and The Knights of St Columba.

Thanks to Fr Gerard Hatton, Fr Ninian Doohan and all at St Patrick's for hosting this special event.

Other priests who concelebrated Mass were Fr Josh Moir (St Patrick's, Kilsyth), Fr James Cadman (St Mary & St David, Hawick, Jedburgh, Kelso) and Fr Joe McAuley (Archdiocese of Glasgow).

GALLERY: Mass for Married & Engaged Couples

Archbishop Cushley celebrated Mass for Married & Engaged Couples at St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh last night (Wednesday 29 May) .

The annual event sees couples come before the Lord to reflect on the beautiful Catholic vision for marriage and family life, thanksgiving for the gift of this calling, and prayer for the blessing of their love.

The longest married couple attending were Margaret and Bill Mawdsley, parishioners at St John the Baptist in Corstorphine, married for 69 years (pictured to the right of Archbishop Leo).

The most recently married couple attending were Francesco and Nardina, from Italy and now resident in Edinburgh, who married just seven months ago.

Archbishop Cushley was the principal celebrant at the Mass and was joined by Fr Robert Taylor, Fr Jeremy Milne (Ss John the Baptist & Kentigern, Corstorphine), Fr Benedict Iwatt (Our Lady & St Andrews, Galashiels) and Deacon Peter Traynor.

Thanks to Fr Jeremy and members of his Marriage & Families commission for a wonderful evening, along with the Cathedral choir, volunteers and staff of Coffee Saints.

Gallery

 

 

Treasuring the Gift: Scripture Reflection Day

The translation of the Bible that we hear at Mass is changing this Advent.

This day of prayer, study and discussion is a good opportunity to reflect together on what a gift the word of God is for the Church.

So if you want to learn more about the Bible and discover and share practical tips to treasure it even more - this is the day for you. Register for this free event here.

This event will begin with Mass at 10:00am in St Margaret's Chapel at The Gillis Centre.

'Then there will be prayer, study and discussion, featuring talks from invited speakers and a panel of testimonies from lay people from across the Archdiocese.'

We will conclude with Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction in the Chapel at 2:30pm.

A light lunch will be provided and there is free parking onsite.

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Schedule

10:00am:Holy Mass (optional) in St Margaret's Chapel.

10.30am: Teas/Coffee, sign ins, Gillis Centre main hall

11.00am: Welcome from Fr Jamie McMorrin. The translation of the Bible we hear at Mass is about to change. Change is never easy, but this is an opportunity for us to appreciate anew the gift that the Bible is and help us to engage with it more deeply, both at Mass and in our everyday lives.

11:10am: Session 1: What is the Bible?

11:45am: Session 2: Treasuring the Bible in Personal Prayer

12:30pm: Lunch break (light lunch provided)

1:00pm: Session 3: Treasuring the Bible at Mass. Looking at the lectionary, the cycle of readings. How can we engage with the readings more fruitfully? What is the relationship between the Word of God proclaimed in the readings and the Word of God made flesh in the Eucharist?

1:30pm: Session 4: Panel Discussion and Lay Testimonies

2:30pm: Eucharistic Adoration in St Margaret's Chapel

2:45pm: Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament

3.00pm: End

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Treasuring the Gift - Sacred Scripture Reflection Day takes place at The Gillis Centre, 100 Strathearn Road, Edinburgh, EH9 1BB, on Saturday 8 June 2024. The event is organised by the Catechetics Commission of the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh. Register here.

Deeply Devoted

This event will throw light on the background and efficacy of the prayers and practices in bringing us closer to God and helping us to live a life of holiness.

From the Holy Rosary, to Eucharistic Adoration, to the simple act of lighting a candle for a loved one, the Catholic tradition is rich in devotional practices.

The main speaker is Fr Kevin Douglas, who will speak on Devotions in the morning. We will also hear from Deacon Paul Brady of Glasgow Archdiocese.

Register here for this FREE event.

The event takes place on Saturday 27 April 2024 at The Gillis Centre, 100 Strathearn Road, Edinburgh, EH9 1BB (map below).

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SCHEDULE

Morning

10:30am: Doors open/ tea & coffee

11:00am: Unpacking Catholic Devotions, with Fr Kevin Douglas

11:45am: Choice of sessions led by Catechetical Commission members:

1. Delving into the Divine Mercy: origins and practice of this beautiful and increasingly popular devotion.

2. A Saint for all Seasons: exploring devotion to saints - and how to find the one for you.

12:30pm: Lunch (light lunch provided).*

Afternoon

1:15pm: Talk and Q&A session led by Deacon Paul Brady on Sacramentals: exploring why Catholics use candles, statues, prayer cards, holy medals, rituals and lots more.

2:00pm: There’s Something about Mary: exploring Marian devotion.

2:30pm: Guided devotional prayer in St Margaret’s Chapel: The Divine Mercy followed by a decade of the Rosary and Marian prayers.

3:00pm: End.

This a free event, open to all. There is free parking onsite.

*Free lunch provided (small sandwiches and fruit). If you have food allergies/intolerances please being a packed lunch.

Deeply Devoted is organised by the Catechetics Commission of the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh. Queries: please email Christine Clark at chrissyclark77@aol.com

GALLERY: 'Called to be Saints' Youth Day

Young people gathered at The Gillis Centre on Saturday to be inspired and encouraged in their faith at our 'Called to be Saints' Youth Day.

The day was led by Fr Martin Eckersley (St Francis Xavier's in Falkirk) and Fr Robert Taylor (St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh) and games, discussions and testimonials from Judith Ralston (TV presenter), Sr Catherine Farrelly (Sisters of the Gospel of Life), Matt Meade (Comms Director of the Archdiocese) and Fr Robert.

The speakers joined Archbishop Cushley for a Q&A before he celebrated Mass for the Vigil of Palm Sunday in St Margaret's Chapel.

Thanks to everyone who came along!

Gallery

 

TV presenter (and former St Augustine's pupil) Judith Ralston spoke of her faith journey and career.

Fr Robert Taylor spoke of his vocational journey to the priesthood, via radio presenting and time on the high seas!

Sr Catherine Farrelly is now in her fourth year with the Sisters of the Gospel of Life and spoke about how she came to join them.

Act now on 'conversion practices' proposals

Catholics are being asked to make their voices heard by responding to a Scottish Government consulation on 'conversion practices'.

The new law proposes banning ‘conversion practices’, which are broadly defined as practices which aim to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Government claims such a law is needed to catch “the most serious and harmful forms of conversion practices”.

The Catholic Church unequivocally condemns violent, abusive, coercive practices.

The proposals, however, risk criminalising innocent, harmless behaviour, including the mainstream pastoral work of churches, and parental guidance given lovingly and in good faith.

It is vital that Catholics and all those concerned for freedom of expression, religious freedom and the rights of parents, respond to this consultation.

What to do

The Catholic Parliamentary Office has prepared a guide to help you answer the questions in the consulatation. Find it here: https://bit.ly/guidancescot

The closing date for responses is Tuesday 2 April 2024

Life inside the Cathedral’s 9am Sunday choir

Since its founding in 2018, singers of different ages, backgrounds, and abilities have joined the St Mary's Cathedral 9am Sunday choir.

The group is an important part of the tapestry that makes up the musical life of St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh.

“I think the choir’s life is shaped by three overlapping priorities”, explains director of music Michael Ferguson, “musical, spiritual, and social.

“Membership of the choir is open to everyone regardless of musical background, and we usually find that people come looking for all three of these things in some way when they join us.

"We’ve had many successes as a group, but I think the way we integrate these musical, spiritual, and social dimensions has been key to our flourishing as a choir”.

Musical life

Ailsa, a soprano, says: “The choir does absorb everybody who comes into it.

"There are different backgrounds...but it is all made to work, using everybody’s talents to encourage everyone to participate more and more — and that wouldn’t work in every setting”.

Currently, members come from such diverse occupational backgrounds as education, the legal profession, film and animation, marketing and promotions, and the music industry.

The inside of St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh, where the choir sing at the 9am Sunday Mass.

According to Michael, the choir’s musical repertoire plays an especially important role in enabling wide participation amidst this diversity.

"There is quite a different approach to the 12pm Schola Cantorum, say, where in a Palestrina Mass you might have six separate voice parts, each of which demands a specific range and skillset from the singers.

"In the 9am choir we move much more freely between solo and unison singing, and two and three-part harmony, and sometimes we even write our own harmonies when there aren’t pre-composed ones available”.

Lucy, an alto, says: “There are some hymns that we might be over-familiar with or remember from school, and maybe not remember that happily, but we can make them our own again”.

Spiritual life

Being part of the choir also brings spiritual rewards for the singers.

“Singing feels such a more intense form of prayer”, says alto Rosie, whilst others mention that singing helps them to engage more deeply with Scripture and the texts of the Mass.

“I quite like the hymns that draw on texts”, explains Lucy, “where you can make that connection between the hymns and whatever the readings are.

"It is interesting to see that you’ve got a version of the words, and then music on top of that — it enriches the engagement with the readings.

"When you’re learning a language you learn songs because it helps imbed it in your memory much better. And it’s quite like that with our music”.

People come up to us at the end of Mass quite regularly...telling us how moved they’ve been by the music.

Rebecca agrees: “it’s different when the texts are sung than when you read them”.

Likewise for Ailsa, when one encounters a text in the context of singing, “it can help you think about it in a different way”.

Fr Ajeesh George joined the choir in autumn 2022, and while he is often busy celebrating Mass on Sunday mornings, he sings regularly with the ensemble on Wednesday evenings.

He said: “Some people are attracted to the words and ideas the priest says in the homily, and some people are attracted to the songs and they come to God.

"So we are really spreading the Gospel to people who come to church”.

Ideally, the spiritual enrichment stemming from the choir’s music-making extends beyond the confines of the group, to the Cathedral community at large.

" People come up to us at the end of Mass quite regularly — to be honest, most weeks there is someone telling us how moved they’ve been by the music — and this is especially true of visitors to the Cathedral.

"In some sense it’s not for us to predict what people might find spiritually helpful, but it seems to be the case that what moves us tends to move other members of the worshipping community too.”

As well as singing stand-alone songs and reflections, the primary role of the choir is to lead the congregational singing each week.

For the choir members, this connection between their singing and the wider congregation is strongest when they themselves feel enlivened and uplifted by the music.

“I think the congregation come on side when they can tell that we’ve loved something”, explains Rosie, “there are moments where the congregation feels buoyed too, I think”.

Rebecca agrees: “If we’ve done a reflection and it was really good, the Communion hymn tends to be louder than the Offertory hymn was.

"And then the recessional hymn is always louder still. I think sometimes people say, ‘Yes! I’ll join in’.”

Social life

For all of the singers, the social dimension of the choir’s life is important.

Soprano Liz says:“I enjoy being with younger people, and a few not much younger than me, from backgrounds different from my own”.

Choir members enjoy social time together with Director of Music Michael Ferguson (left).

Bass David agrees: “We’re a very welcoming and friendly choir and as a new joiner I’ve encountered great camaraderie and a relaxed and friendly atmosphere.”

For others like Rosie, joining the choir has helped her feel more connected to the wider St Mary’s Cathedral community.

“This is the church that I’ve felt most a part of the parish community, which is almost entirely to do with coming to choir and feeling like I know people better than I would if I just turned up and sat in the pews.

"There’s not that much social engagement within a Mass, unless you already know people.

And so it’s outside the Mass — for example at a choir rehearsal — that that social connection really happens.”

“We understand that singers need to balance the commitment of choir membership with working and family life,” explains Michael.

“And so part of our ethos is that we allow as flexible an approach to attendance as we’re able.

"This is another benefit of our adaptable musical style, because so long as we have a core of singers each week — which we always do — we’re able to excuse people from certain commitments if they need time away in a manner that just isn’t possible with the Schola Cantorum.

"What we find though is that attendance is very strong and consistent simply because people love singing in the choir. We’re blessed with a very loyal and committed bunch!”

The choir rehearses on a Wednesday evening at 7:00pm at 63 York Place, and sings at the 9am Sunday morning Mass each week. The group is open to members of all backgrounds and abilities. To get involved, please contact Michael Ferguson at DirectorOfMusic@stmaryscathedral.co.uk

*This is an abridged version of the original article that appeared in the Summer 2023 edition of Crux, the magazine of the Friends of St Mary's Cathedral.

GALLERY: St Joseph's celebrates 50 years!

Congratulations to Canon James Tracey and all at St Joseph's Church in Burntisland, Fife.

They celebrated the 50th anniversary of the first Mass at their Cowdenbeath Road home on Sunday (10 March), and invited Archbishop Leo Cushley to join the celebrations.

 

WATCH: Lent reflection from Canon Hugh White

Here is this week's Lent reflection from Canon Hugh White, who discusses the forthcoming Sunday Gospel.

Questions for reflection:
1. When have you found yourself called to respond to a situation that was harmful to the wellbeing or dignity of someone? How did you respond?
2. How might you join with others to safeguard some particular right or show solidarity?
3. What does it mean to give God His place in your life and home?
Canon Hugh's reflections are uploaded each Monday in Lent on our YouTube channel.
Canon Hugh White is a retired priest of the Archdiocese based in Bathgate.