WATCH: Pensioner's cheeky comment inspires priest's music sessions
A priest has revealed how a pensioner's cheeky comment sparked the idea to play his accordian on Facebook for parishioners during lockdown.
Now Fr Chris Heenan's daily music sessions are attracting a range of requests - including polkas, waltzes and reels - from traditional Scottish music fans across the UK (continues below).
Fr Heenan, parish priest at St Margaret's in Dunfermline, said: "I started because I remembered I did a service in a nursing home and after it, I noticed a keyboard there for someone to play hymns...after the service I gave them a few Scottish tunes and this old lady looked at me and said, 'Son, you're better at that than you are at the other stuff!'
"So I thought 'there are plenty of spiritual reflections out there, let's try some music'. Music can take us away from our worries and cares and brings us joy and happiness."
If you're on Facebook, you can watch Fr Heenan's music sessions here. He also streams daily Mass on YouTube - click here.
St Margaret’s Pilgrimage looks ahead to 2021
The St Margaret’s Pilgrimage 2020 may be cancelled, but organisers are already planning to make next year’s event extra special.
The popular day, which draws pilgrims from across the country to Dunfermline, was set to take place on 07 June. However, like many big events, it has been called off due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Father Chris Heenan, of St Margaret’s Memorial Church, said: “We’re disappointed but not surprised to have had to cancel the event. We’re staying positive - our team of organisers will use this time to channel their energy and enthusiasm into putting together a fantastic programme for 2021.
“In the meantime, we can ask for the intercession of St Margaret as we pray for an end to the coronavirus pandemic, particularly in Scotland, where she is our patron saint. We pray especially for those who have lost loved ones to Covid-19 at this time. May they rest in peace.”
Archbishop Leo Cushley said: “St Margaret’s Pilgrimage has become a key occasion for many people in Scotland to come together and thank God for the impact this wonderful saint continues to have through her example of faith, charity and leadership. I look forward to being in Dunfermline for its return in 2021.”
Pupils get creative to highlight life of St Margaret
Pupils at St Margaret’s Primary in Dunfermline got creative to highlight the life of the school’s patron saint.
They took part in an art competition for the annual St Margaret’s summer pilgrimage, which like many events, now looks set to be cancelled.
Before schools closed and before social distancing measures were introduced, primary 7 pupil Andreea Gavril displayed her winning image along with Yishi Tan and Adelle Keddie who were winners in the Powerpoint category. They each received a prize of book tokens. Camryn Cooke, a pupil at St Marie’s in Kirkcaldy, was also a winner with his drawing.
Father Chris Heenan, parish priest at St Margaret’s Catholic Church in Dunfermline, helped organise the competition along with Ian Moir, of the Fire Station Creative art gallery in the town.
Back row from left, Father Chris Heenan , Fraser Gillan, head of St Margaret’s Primary and Ian Moir, of Fire Station Creative. Front row from left: Yishi Tan, Andreea Gavril and Adelle Keddie.
Fr Chris said: “It’s good to get together to celebrate the work that the children have done. Not just the fantastic posters, but also the research into St Margaret’s life and her Hungarian roots in the Powerpoint presentations, which were very impressive.
“It highlighted how she looked after the people of this country and loved them. So at this time especially, we need St Margaret’s example, and the children have helped us learn from that.”
He added: “The prize of book tokens should come in handy for buying a good read while they’re absent from school.”
Archbishop Leo Cushley, who helped choose the winning entries, said: “Congratulations to the winners for their creative efforts and for helping highlight the life and good works of St Margaret.”
St Margaret, pray for us!
Q&A: Deacon William on his path to priesthood
Ahead of his ordination to the priesthood on Wednesday, Deacon William McQuillan speaks about his vocation journey...
What are you most looking forward to in your ministry?
Getting started. It’s been a long journey. I first considered priesthood twenty-five years ago, in fact I first met the priest who will be vesting me at my ordination, Fr Chris Heenan, back when we were students together at seminary in Gillis, Edinburgh, which I attended for two years.
When did you decide to become a priest?
When I was at school Wallace High School in Stirling, but I resisted making any serious commitment to it until my late forties when I stopped giving myself excuses not to.
What did you do before studying for the priesthood?
Many different things over the years, mostly in hospitality and customer service, but immediately before going to seminary I was a postman in Dunfermline.
What’s been the best thing about living I Rome?
There are so many things - the history, food, culture and the international community in our college. But mostly, it’s been the privilege of studying so close to our holy father Pope Francis who has been an important factor in my decision to become a priest.
Can you describe some of the best moments?
I've found myself in many unforgettable and unique situations over the four years there, like the opening of the Holy Door during the Year of Mercy jubilee in 2016 and meeting the Holy Father during the Scottish Bishops’ ad limina visit last year.
And the most challenging?
The way of life there can sometimes feel a little more disorganised but you get used to it. Also, having to compress a lot of studies and formation into four years, compared to the normal seven years for seminarians. Oh,and the mosquitoes!
What advice would you give to someone considering the priesthood?
It may seem strange coming from someone my age, but don't feel you have to wait forever until everything is 100% clear and certain about the future, just trust in God and make that leap of faith.
Deacon William McQuillan will be ordained to the priesthood at St Margaret's Church in Dunfermline on Wednesday 3rd July. He will serve as an assistant priest at St Francis Xavier's Church in Falkirk.
Pilgrims celebrate St Margaret in Dunfermline
Hundreds of pilgrims gathered in Dunfermline in Fife for the annual St Margaret's Pilgrimage on Sunday, 2 June.
Jean MacDonald, a parishioner at St Patrick's Church in Kilsyth, said: "Our parish priest, Father Daniel Doherty, drove the minibus to bring us up here today. It's nice to see all the school children here as well - they are the future of the Church."
Her friend Patricia Campbell, who was attending the pilgrimage for the fourth time, added: "I came to enjoy the atmosphere. We've already visited St Margaret's Cave, it's very emotional."
Sam Begbie, from St Margaret's Church in Clydebank, said: "We're taking part in this procession to represent our parish. It's nice for the younger ones to see this kind of activity within the faith."
Cathie Keating, of Holy Cross Church in Croy, said: "I wanted to be part of the pilgrimage. I'm very proud to be Scottish and I wouldn't wanted to have missed it. It's my first time, and my oldest daughter's Confirmation name is Margaret of Scotland."
During the day pilgrims explored the numerous historic sites across the Fife town that are associated with St Margaret, Queen of Scots (1045-93).
Archbishop Leo Cushley led the procession through the town centre, carrying the holy relics of the saint, before pilgrims gathered for Holy Mass at St Margaret's RC Memorial Church.
In his homily, Archbishop Cushley praised the example of St Margaret's Christian action.
"She had the fire of someone newly converted to the faith and she put that faith into practice," he said, "In a time rougher than ours she achieved her goals with skill, energy and determination.
"But she did so, always informed by a strong faith in Christ and his power to save her, her family, and her adopted nation."
Following Holy Mass, many pilgrims had the opportunity to receive a blessing with the relic of St Margaret. To read the Archbishop's homily in full click here.
Celebrity support for St Margaret’s Pilgrimage 2019
Popular singer-songwriter Barbara Dickson has thrown her support behind the St Margaret’s Pilgrimage 2019 which will take place in her home town of Dunfermline, Fife, this Sunday, 2 June.
“I feel the event is of such importance to Dunfermline and Scotland, both spiritually and culturally," said Barbara, 30 May.
“I’m a native of the town and I’ve wanted to go for a long time...St Margaret is one of the most important women in Scottish history and her influence is still felt.”
The St Margaret's Pilgrimage 2019 promises to be a great day out for the family with the highlight of the event being the procession of the holy relic of St Margaret (1045-93) starting from the Louise Carnegie Gates at Pittencrieff Park at 2:15pm and making its way towards St Margaret’s Church for Holy Mass at 3pm. Pilgrims will be led through the streets by Lochgelly Brass Band and local pipers. The principle celebrant at Holy Mass will be Archbishop Leo Cushley. Meanwhile, Barbara Dickson will read a passage from Sacred Scripture. Following Mass, pilgrims are invited to receive the blessing of the relic.
“It will be an opportunity for us all to pray together, to pray for our country, our families and friends and to pray for the peace and prosperity of our land,” said Archbishop Cushley.
Notably, this year's pilgrimage will begin with a ecumenical service at Dunfermline Abbey which will be led by Archbishop Cushley along with the Reverend MaryAnn Rennie, Church of Scotland Minister of Dunfermline Abbey, and Father Christopher Heenan, parish priest at St Margaret’s Church.
“I’m delighted that St Margaret’s Pilgrimage will begin with a joint service in the Abbey," said Father Heenan, "Margaret is an exceptionally important figure to Dunfermline as well as the whole of Scotland so it is fitting that a celebration of her life is as inclusive as possible.”
Throughout the day, guides from Discover Dunfermline Tours will also be on hand to take people to visit local sites associated with St Margaret. Suitable for families and children, the tour will last around an hour and will include a visit to St Margaret’s shrine at the east end of Dunfermline Abbey, the base of Malcolm’s Tower, where Margaret and the royal household lived, and St Margaret’s Cave, which was her private place for prayer. For more information go to, https://stmargaretsdunfermline.co.uk/