HOMILY: Funeral Mass of Canon Bill Conway

The funeral Mass of Canon Bill Conway took place today (Friday 27 January) at St Machan's in Lennoxtown. May he rest in peace.

Homily of Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews & Edinburgh

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

A very warm welcome to you all on the sad occasion of the funeral of Canon William Conway.

I’d especially like to greet Bill’s sisters and brother, Anna, Maureen and Laurence, and the members of their families who are with us here today.

I am grateful to Canon Bath and the people of St Machan’s for their welcome here, and to Canon Holuka who has done so much to prepare today, and who will continue to look after Bill’s affairs until everything here is concluded.

Canon Richard and the family chose the readings that we’ve listened to, and they are chosen to remind us of something of the man that Bill was, of his faith, and of his life of service to the people and future clergy of St Andrews & Edinburgh.

The first reading from the prophet Isaiah evokes eternal life in a calm and reassuring scene on a hilltop, and as an eternal banquet.

The joy of a festive banquet is a theme found quite often in both the Old and New Testaments.

The image more specifically of a wedding feast is something that is used more than once by the Lord Himself, and it lets us see and feel the anticipation of God’s welcome to us, the great joy in the occasion, and the super abundance of God’s love for us.

All are welcome here, even if death and life are intertwined in our human condition, along with love and loss, and there is the gentle suggestion that, if we never lost someone or something precious to us, we might never learn to love, and never grow into the fullness of our humanity that God wishes for us.


Bill lived a long and, I believe, a happy life, but we know it was not without its losses.

As many of us are aware, one of the things Bill was to lose for a long part of his later life was the natural and very human pleasure of eating and drinking normally.

He had to feed himself in a way that practically meant tasting little or nothing of what nourished him, from before I came to know him some ten autumns ago.

He bore illness with remarkable stoicism and forbearance

This happened due to an illness that he bore with remarkable stoicism and forbearance, at least in what I saw of him.

He wasn’t able to eat and drink as most people do, but he nevertheless had the forbearance and the goodness to continue to attend meals, and the humility to let his food be prepared in a different way while others around him enjoyed the normal pleasures of such things.

He never omitted to join the senior clergy when we gathered for dinner or indeed the luncheons for retired priests, and was of good cheer among us, enjoying what he could of the moment and camaraderie of his old friends, without fuss or fanfare.

It is, therefore, at least a small comfort to picture him, beside the Lord, at the great banquet of life and love and comfort that await those who are faithful to Christ, the Bridegroom.

The second reading from St Paul’s letter to the Romans is a reminder of our baptism into Christ’s death and our connection to the Lord through word and sacrament.


Those connections, initiated and fostered, not here in Lennoxtown, but in New Stevenson, brought Bill into the orbit of the Church from his youngest years and set him, gradually, eventually, on the path to the priesthood.

Ordained in 1968 for St Andrews & Edinburgh, he served all over this Archdiocese: from Falkirk to Jedburgh, from Loanhead and Edinburgh to Denny and Lennoxtown.

A significant time in his ministry was his 14 years teaching Sacred Scripture to the seminarians of St Andrew’s College, Drygrange.

All of this took place, starting with the faith of his family and godparents and the journey of conforming himself to Christ crucified that begins for all believers in Baptism.

St Paul adds, “If in union with Christ we have imitated his death, we shall also imitate him in his resurrection.”

He was surely imitating the Lord and his sufferings with the greatest patience and simplicity.

The last time I saw Bill, in Glasgow Royal Infirmary a few hours before he died, he was surely imitating the Lord and his sufferings with the greatest patience and simplicity.

When the wonderful staff there had finished readying him, we had a slow and difficult conversation, and when we had finished, he asked for my blessing.

Those were my last words to him, and I left him to continue the last few paces of his journey.

As Bill imitated the Lord in his death, may the Lord likewise grant Bill to rise with him in life.

The Gospel reading from St John chapter 5 is one that we don’t hear very often, but it holds several lessons for us from the Lord Himself.

There are two I want to pick up on here: the first is that whoever listens to the Lord’s words and believes in them, will have eternal life.

The second lesson is those who did good will rise again to life.

Scripture scholar

Bill was a scripture scholar, someone with a privileged insight into the Word of God.

He spent much of his life listening to that Word, studying it, deepening his knowledge of it, and not for his own sake, but “doing the good” of sharing it with his students, those who would eventually become his brother priests.

The good that we learn from our teachers and the good we pass on from them surely counts not only in our favour but in theirs.  And a way of paying our debt to our teachers is to pass on the best of whatever we learned from them.

It ensures the tradition of the faith down through the years; but, more importantly on this occasion, it reminds of the good they did.

The Lord assures us today that those who listen to His voice, and who do good as a consequence, will rise to eternal life.

This is what we pray for our brother Bill, as we commend him to almighty God and to the mercy of the risen Lord.

Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen.

Funeral of HM Queen Elizabeth

Ths State Funeral of HM Queen Elizabeth was one of the most viewed events in history with over 4 billion watching the live broadcast from Westminster Abbey in London.

Among Catholics at the funeral were Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, and Archbishop Leo Cushley, who was representing the Catholics of Scotland.

Alost attending were Archbishop Mark O’Toole of Cardiff, who is the most senior Catholic leader in Wales, Archbishop Eamon Martin of Northern Ireland, and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Holy See’s Secretary for Relations with States, representing Pope Francis.

James MacMillan, renowned composer and Catholic, wrote an anthem for the funeral titled 'Who Shall Separate Us?'

At the funeral, Cardinal Nichols prayed: "Let us give thanks for Queen Elizabeth's commitment to the Commonwealth throughout her reign, for her sevice and dedication to its peoples, and for the rich bonds of unity and mutual support she sustained.

"O almighty and everlasting God, hear our prayer for the Commonwealth, and grant it the guidance of thy wisdom. Inspire those in authority, that they may promote justice and the common good; give to all its citizens the spirit of mutual honour and respect; and grant to us all grace to strive for the establishment of righteousness and peace; for the honour of thy name. Amen."

HM Queen Elizabeth was the UK’s longest-serving monarch.

She met four Popes on official visits during her reign: Pope John XXIII (1961), Pope John Paul II (1980, 1982 and 2000), Pope Benedict XVI (2010) and Pope Francis (2014).

In 1951, a year before she acceded to the throne, she met Pope Pius XII.

Archbishop Cushley shakes hands with King Charles as the Monarch met faith leaders ahead of the funeral of HM Queen Elizabeth.
From left: Archbishop Leo Cushley, Archbishop Eamon Martin, Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Archbishop Mark O'Toole.

HOMILY: Funeral of Fr John Morrison

Archbishop Leo Cushley paid tribute to the faith and resilience of the late Fr John Morrison at his Requiem Mass today (Thursday 5 May).

He told mourners at St Margaret Mary's Church in Granton about and his faith as priest, his love of the Blessed Sacrament and his patience in enduring a long illness before his death last month at the age of 85.

Fr John served as a priest in Broxburn, Jedburgh and Loanhead before retiring at St Margaret Mary’s in Granton, Edinburgh. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1990 at the age of 53. Prior to that he had pursued a successful career in the prison service. He was laid to rest at Mount Vernon Cemetery.

Homily - Archbishop Leo Cushley

St Margaret Mary's Church, Edinburgh
Thursday 5th May

My dear friends,

A very warm welcome on this sad occasion to St Margaret Mary’s and to the funeral Mass for the repose of the soul of Father John Morrison.

The last time I was here, John was concelebrating with me, and he was a regular feature here, in health and in sickness and older age.  He was very fond of the people here and of this place, and it’s fitting that we pray for him and remember him here, in this place so familiar to him.

Fr John Morrison celebrating Mass at St Margaret Mary's in 2015, with (from left), the late Fr Hugh Purcell, Fr Jamie McMorrin, Fr Morrison, Fr Tony Lappin, Fr Paul Lee, Fr Jeremy Milne.

He was a man with two distinct careers, in the prison service and as a priest.  He was successful and distinguished in both, and was known to many, from infamous criminals all the way to senior royalty, and all of it he appears to have taken in his stride.


He was also respected and liked as a priest wherever he served.  I remember how he himself was surprised by the fact that he completed a silver jubilee in the priesthood, and took a bit of encouraging to celebrate it.

I also recall how he liked to come to the Holy Hour and Confessions I held from time to time in St Bennet’s for the clergy.  He was always there and at supper afterwards, with a small glass of red wine in hand, held court until it was time to go home.

He enjoyed the company and the camaraderie, but on these occasions he was also devout in his own quiet, serious sort of way, and an example to the rest of us who were older in priesthood, but younger in age.


He also was resilient in these last couple of years in spite of covid and his own health.  For someone who enjoyed travelling the world and meeting new people, he remained cheerful, even as his life and his world became more and more confined.

I also remember meeting his sister, Margaret when she was visiting John in hospital, and how they cared for each other.  When she died after a short illness, I went to see John, and when I condoled with him on her passing, he expressed sadness over his beloved sister, but also a little relief, in the sense that he himself felt he could now go in peace.

A modest wish, but one that was granted to him in the end.

In 2015, Fr Morrison celebrated the 25th anniversary of ordination at St Margaret Mary's.

I’ve chosen readings for today that I hope reflect a little bit of John, his life of faith and what I believe he might have liked to hear read over his remains.

Our first reading is an Easter one, a robust and joyful declaration of faith from the young Church, under the leadership of Peter.  We are permitted to read this reading only in Eastertide, and it reassures us all that no matter who or we are or have been, Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Lord of all.

Whether we are alive or dead, Jesus is our Judge, but a benign and merciful one. Our soul thirsts for him, or it ought to, as we gaze upon him in the sanctuary, and as we long to know him and better serve him with our lives.

This joyful, straightforward declaration of Peter’s faith is one that John surely shared with all in his life and priesthood.


Our second reading, from St Paul’s letter to the Romans, speaks of the suffering that some of us must bear, and over an extended period of time, and of suffering that becomes very burdensome.

Fr Morrison with Archbishop Leo in 2015.

John had to endure not a few weeks or months, but a number of years of illness, with patience.  I know that patience wasn’t perfect, but he certainly put a good face on it anytime I went to see him…! He perked up and had the air of someone who was cheerful in his situation, and in spite of everything.

He was ill, but he wasn’t letting that get him down.  Rather, he believed, as we do, that the whole of creation still retains the hope of being freed from slavery to decay and death, to enjoy the same freedom and glory as the children of God.  And we, with all creation, long to be set free.

Blessed Sacrament

Finally, in the Gospel, it seemed apt to take a passage from John 6, where our Lord makes a clear connection between what we do here at Mass and the life in Christ that the Eucharist betokens.

The Blessed Sacrament is at the centre of our faith in the risen Lord, and not for nothing did Father John find time to come every month to pray with his fellow priests before it.

It makes me wonder if it was a devotion to the Blessed Sacrament that drew John to the priesthood during his civilian career.  Some of you will know that better than I, but whether it’s the case or not, I know that it was an important part of his spirituality as a mature man and a priest, and it was an example to us all.

Many more stories and tales will be told about John, I’m sure, but they are for another time.

Meantime, we give thanks to God for Fr John, for the civil good he did for society as a whole in his first career, and for all the spiritual good he achieved un many years of service as a priest.

And we ask the risen Lord to welcome him, with his sins forgiven, into paradise today: eternal rest, grant unto him O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.  May he rest in peace. Amen

WATCH: Funeral of Archbishop Philip Tartaglia

The Requiem Mass for Archbishop Philip Tartaglia takes place today (Thursday 21 January) at midday.

A live stream of the funeral can be found here.

Last night, Archbishop Cushley presided over the Reception of Remains at St Andrew's Cathedral in Glasgow. The full video can be watched here. Below is an edited version of the Archbishop's closing words.

All video content: Sancta Familia Media.

Archbishop Cushley's closing remarks at Reception of Remains 20/01/21

My dear friends, before we go our separate ways, I would just like to add a word of my own condolences to all of Philip’s brothers and sisters, to my dear friend Gerard, to all of you here, and to all of Philip’s family, only some of whom can be present due to restrictions, and to all the clergy and people of the Archdiocese.

This is a sudden and sad loss for all of us in our little corner of the Lord’s vineyard in Scotland. After absorbing this blow, the Archdiocese of Glasgow will surely move forward and, please God, will be blessed with a fine new leader, but it's only right that we take time for a moment to thank God for Philip, your brother, for his life, his priesthood, his unique goodness and humour, and for his taking up the many heavy tasks that were placed on his shoulders over nearly fifty years of service to the people, and the city, and the church that he loved so much.

So, we do well to take a moment to remember him as he was, and as we knew him.

But, we also do well to recall that Christian funerals are not, in fact, about the person who has died - but about someone else, the One who died for love of us, the one that Philip spent his life serving, Jesus Christ, our master and our guide.

A Christian funeral draws us away from our sadness, our pain and loss, and even from the memory of our love for the one who has died, and helps us raise our eyes to the Creator of all things who has now called Philip to himself.

As the name suggests, a Christian funeral focuses upon Jesus Christ, upon his love for us all, and upon the confidence and hope that we place in our merciful Redeemer. Our God is a God of love, and whether we live or we die, we belong to Him.

With confidence, therefore, we commend Philip to God’s mercy.  We do so with affection for Philip, and for each other, and we do so with the hope that we will all meet together again, happily, in paradise.

Eternal rest grant unto him or Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him; may he rest in peace. Amen

Hundreds expected to watch priest's funeral online

The family of the late Fr Thomas Greenan are encouraging people to join them in prayer by watching a webcast of his funeral service.

It takes place at 10am this Friday (05 June) at Seafield Crematorium in Edinburgh, and will be presided over by Archbishop Cushley. Attending the service is restricted to close family members due to Covid-19 guidelines, but hundreds are expected to tune in to pay their respects.

To watch, visit https://www.wesleymedia.co.uk/webcast-view

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Joe, Fr Tommy's brother, said: "Please pass on these details or post on social media. There will be a Mass for Tommy at St John's, Portobello, when restrictions are relaxed."

Tributes flooded in following the dedicated priest's death on Sunday 17 May. He had been suffering from Alzheimer’s and was based at St Margaret’s Care Home in Edinburgh. He was 64 years old.

Video tribute

The following video was posted on the Facebook page of St John's & St Mary Magdalene's Parish in Edinburgh.