Voting rights of religious representatives removed in Fife
Councillors at Fife Council today voted, by a margin of 36-32, to remove the voting rights of Church Representatives.
It means that the Catholic Representative Mary Caldwell will not have a vote in decisions affecting Catholic schools.
A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh said: "The Catholic community in Fife will be disappointed that Mary will no longer have a vote on decisions that impact our schools.
"It is estimated that around 2,000 people in Fife contacted councillors about this issue, asking them to support the Catholic community on this issue.”
Margaret Barton, Religious Advisor for the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh, spoke to councillors at the meeting ahead of the vote.
She said: “As it is with yourselves, the Church Representative is accountable to the parents and families who choose Catholic schools.
"Like yourselves, Mary Caldwell’s service to the community is at the core of her work.
"The representative for the Catholic Church speaks and votes on behalf of a significant community who, for various reasons, do not always get their views represented.”
Voting for religious reps were agreed by current Fife Council councillors a year ago (June 2022).
When the Catholic Church transferred its schools to state control in 1918, it was with the understanding that the state would work in partnership with the denomination in whose interest the schools were being run.
In 1929 the Churches were given statutory representation on education committees and that has remained to this day.
The Church Representative has been a key part of that historical, and present, legally mandated arrangement, ensuring that the trust which the Catholic Church placed in the state many years ago is reciprocated at local government level.
With 15 Catholic schools in Fife, they are educating a high percentage of the children and young people in this authority area and, therefore, impacting upon a significant percentage of those resident in Fife.
Thanks to the many people in Fife who contacted their councillors using our campaign postcards.
Voting rights for Religious Representatives on Edinburgh City Council will be decided by councillors later in the year.
WATCH: 'How do I discover God's will for me?'
"God has created me to do Him some definite service..." St John Henry Newman knew that each of us has a vocation from God to do his will on earth.
For some it will be serving Him in the priesthood or religious life. In the below video, Sr Mirjam Hugens explores how you can discover his will for you.
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.
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.”
The first monthly Mass for vocations takes place at St Columba’s Church, 9 Upper Gray Street on Monday 4th November at 6:30pm.
If you are based in the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh and want to chat about the priesthood, contact Fr Andrew on 0131 663 4286, email@example.com. For the religious life, contact Sr Mirjam on 0131 623 8902.
St Columba's pupils celebrate success!
Pupils at St Columba's High School in Dunfermline have been recognised for their "commitment and hard work" at a special end of term event.
The S1-S3 pupils from the school's three houses - Mandela, Romero and Teresa - were given awards at the school's Celebrating Success Ceremony.
Great to recognise the fantastic achievements of S1-3 pupils at our Celebrating Success ceremony. Many thank to His Grace Archbishop @leocushley who presented certificates to all pupils. pic.twitter.com/bVgWNeUYLI
Archbishop Leo Cushley was guest of honour and told pupils: "Receiving awards for achievements is a lovely thing.
"But it also means that much is now expected of you.
"We now hope and look forward to you achieving your goals, so that you in turn you will take up your duty to help build a better, safer, happier society for everyone."
St Columba's welcomed His Grace Archbishop @leocushley today - talking and engaging with our senior pupils. He talked about his experience of meeting 2 of our House patrons: Nelson Mandela and Saint Mother Teresa. pic.twitter.com/0fv8tJHlZi
He earlier enjoyed a sit-down session with senior pupils, to find out more about their future plans while discussing his own life in the priesthood and beyond.
Headteacher Kevin O'Connor said: "We are very happy to welcome Archbishop Cushley to St Columba's, celebrating 50 years of the school building in Dunfermline, and particularly delighted for His Grace to share in the achievements of our young people who have shown their commitment and hard work and who have been part of the St Columba's ethos to achieve their best."