OBITUARY: Fr Thomas McNulty (1933-2024)

Fr Thomas McNulty was a caring, humorous, and holy man who wanted to be a priest from a young age.

He was dedicated and happy in his role as a pastor of souls and continued to be active in ministry long after his official retirement.

Thomas McNulty was born in Chicago in 1933 to parents John and Jean who had emigrated from Scotland and he was baptised at St Cyril’s in the city.

They returned to Scotland in 1937 and the family, including his four sisters (Margaret, Mary, Frances and Sally) lived in the Sighthill area of Edinburgh.

Thomas attended St John's in Portobello (1938-1940) and Holy Cross in Edinburgh (1940-45) before heading to Blairs College, the junior seminary in Aberdeenshire.

He would joke that when considering his vocation, he approached his parish priest and said: “Father, I've got half a mind to become a priest”. “That's good, son,” the priest replied, “it's all you’ll need!”


He studied for the priesthood at St Sulpice in Paris (1951-56) and was ordained at St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh in 1956 alongside his good friend Fr James Friel (1933-2019).

He served in seven parishes in the Archdiocese: St Mary, Kirkcaldy (1956-1963), St Bernadette, Larbert (1963-1969), St Columba, Edinburgh (1969-1972), Our Lady & St Margaret, Duns (1972-1984) St Kentigern, Edinburgh (1984-1998), Sacred Heart, Penicuik (1998-2001) and Our Lady of the Waves, Dunbar (2002-2006), from where he retired.

Fr Tom’s longest appointment was at St Kentigern’s, and parishioners have fond memories of his time there.

When he first arrived to begin his ministry, a parishioner offered to help fetch his bags not knowing that all his belongings were in the one bag he was already carrying.

He managed to strike the balance of being sociable and approachable while also enjoying his own company and long walks (he would often head into the Pentland hills with his dog, and at one time had a camper van to take him further afield).

He was a prayerful man who enjoyed a joke and was known for having a good rapport with the children.

At one Good Friday service, he pleased the parents of a young girl who was crying following the death of Jesus by reassuring her that Jesus would be back on Sunday!

He had a good cohort of altar servers and would treat them with a trip to the panto each Christmas, followed by fish and chips. Two of his former servers later invited him to minister at their respective weddings.

Fr Tom stands above his fellow clergy as they enjoy time together.

Parishioners also remember him sending sick people and helpers to Lourdes and he was faithful to the Archdiocesan Lourdes Pilgrimage.

Fr Tom was a strong singer and put together a talented group at St Kentigern’s to provide music at Mass. Although he lived fairly frugally he enjoyed his pipe, a good red wine and fine cheese.


After retirement he stayed for a time at St Margaret’s in Davidson’s Mains and then in Ratho before moving to Holy Cross Parish in the Warriston area in 2008. Fr Daniel Doherty, parish priest of Holy Cross at the time, described him as a “quiet, cheery and prayerful presence”.

He said: “He was very supportive to me and was concerned about my workload and offered to help out throughout his time at the parish. He was a very wise man, a bit like a grandfather figure in the parish.”

Fr Tom celebrated the 60th anniversary of his ordination in 2016 at St Joseph’s House, the former care home and residence run by the Little Sisters of the Poor in Gilmore Place, Edinburgh.

Archbishop Leo Cushley wrote to him at the time saying: “Your continued hard work, and your positive and youthful attitude surely flow from a deep understanding to which you have come, after many years at the altar of God, that at your ordination

"He changed you and has since used you as a special instrument of His care for the Church and the human family.”

Fr Tom was fond of the Little Sisters and would often say Mass for them. He had hoped to reside there in his final years but it sadly closed in 2018.

He moved instead to the Holy Rosary Residence in Greenock, which is also run by The Little Sisters. Before Covid he would travel back to Edinburgh a few times a year to catch up with friends that he missed.

He enjoyed decent health into his eighties and would say Mass in the care home’s chapel, often leading the singing! (Following his death, one of the sisters remarked ‘Who will lead us in singing now?’).

He continued to enjoy walking and was a regular sight along the town’s esplanade.

'A truly devoted priest'

Mgr Francis Kerr, a retired priest of the Archdiocese and a fellow resident at the Holy Rosary Residence in Greenock, said: “Fr Tom was a very humble and reserved person and a truly devoted priest.

He was always willing to supply for me either at St Joseph's home in Edinburgh or here in Greenock whenever I wished to go on holidays or have an overnight.

“He was very popular with the Sisters, the residents and staff. We will all miss his presence, his cheerful remarks, his good humour and general friendliness towards all as well as his willingness to offer any extra Masses for special groups who would come to the Home for Mass.”

Sir Tom Farmer and his late wife Anne were good friends of Fr Tom. He said: “Throughout the many years of friendship that my wife Anne and I enjoyed with Father Tom McNulty, I was always grateful for his abundant kindness and compassion for people, his wise and clear sharing of the word of Scripture and his wonderful companionship as a man who always had a great story to tell.

Fr Tom, fourth from left, with fellow retired clergy and Archbishop Cushley in 2017.

"We who have encountered him can forever be grateful that we met a true man of God.”

Fr Tom's family said: “Fr Tom was a devoted brother to his sisters, all of whom sadly predeceased him. He would attend family Christmases with his niece, Joanna, and her family while his nephews, Nigel and Chris, spent some of their summer holidays with him in Duns for a number of years. His nephews and nieces further afield also kept in touch with him. He will be sadly missed.”

Fr Tom died peacefully at Inverclyde Hospital on Saturday 6 January after a short illness. He was 90.

The Requiem Mass took place at St Kentigern’s on Monday 15 January with Archbishop Cushley as the principal celebrant.

He said in his homily: "The young men who were sent to St-Sulpice in Paris after the War formed an impressive group of friends and comrades.  They worked faithfully in this diocese for many years, although their presence is now fading away with the passing of time.

"Fr Tom was a gentle pastor of souls, but he was also a man of firm conviction.  He was of another school, the old school, but what a wonderful example he was of the best of it."

Fr Tom was laid to rest with his mother and father at the family plot at Mount Vernon Cemetery. May he rest in peace.

Images courtesy of the family of Fr Thomas McNulty.

OBITUARY: Mgr Tony Duffy

The outpouring of tributes made following the death of Mgr Anthony Canon Duffy did not come as a surprise to his family.

Such is the memory of the man they said “worked, lived and breathed solely for the good of others”.

That was demonstrated in his dedication to Lourdes; he was an energetic and welcoming presence for pilgrims and attended the shrine every year, save for two occasions.

In 1975, Pope Paul VI proclaimed a Holy Year, with special indulgences granted for those who journeyed to Rome. While that meant no trip to France, he and a group of volunteers arranged a mini ‘Lourdes at Home’, taking a group of sick and disabled people down to St Andrew’s College in Drygrange. The event also saw Bishop James Monaghan attend. Mgr Duffy was prevented from attending in 2020 due to travel restrictions, following the coronavirus pandemic.

Mgr Duffy became pilgrimage director for the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh in 1983, a role he continued with compassion and good humour until his death.

He would join volunteers in helping transport the ill and disabled on a jumbulance, and from 1986 to 1998 he was the chaplain to the Association of the British Lourdes Pilgrimage Hospitalites (ABLPH), a forum for the many groups involved in organising pilgrimages. He enjoyed representing the Archdiocese at its annual meetings in Lourdes each February.

The Edinburgh Hospitalité and Pilgrimage Committees said: “For the Lourdes community, the sense of loss is profound as Fr Tony was our Pilgrimage Director for many years.”

The day following his death, a candle was lit at the shrine in his memory.

Early life

Anthony Leonard Duffy was born in Edinburgh on 27 May 1947 to Harry and Lilian Duffy and was baptised at Sacred Heart Church in Lauriston.

He was an only child and grew up in a tenement in the Grassmarket area of the city, attending nearby St Ignatius Primary School in Tollcross then Holy Cross Academy. He was heavily involved in the Scouts at St Patrick’s Church in the Cowgate, and the Friday night gatherings would lead to lifelong friendships and a likely spiritual spur leading him on the path to priesthood.

One such friendship was with Fr Ian Laurenson OFM, a chaplain to the scouts. Mgr Duffy, along with fellow Edinburgh-based priest and former scout Gerry Hand, would later visit Fr Laurenson in South Africa just before his death in 2012.

Mgr Duffy left school in fifth year and found work with the Bank of Scotland in Edinburgh.

He quit this job after two years to test his vocation to the priesthood and was accepted into the seminary at St Andrew's College in 1967.

He was a good footballer and enjoyed playing for the seminary team. As a keen singer he was part of a folk group with fellow seminarians called ‘The Coblers’ who would play for local community groups throughout the Borders. As it was the ‘swinging sixties’, his mother made flower pattern ties for the group to wear while performing.

After six years of study, he was ordained by Cardinal Gordon Gray at the Sacred Heart Church in 1973.


He spent time ministering at St Patrick's in Kilsyth and had a first stint at St Cuthbert's, Slateford (1973-1979). He then served at St Paul's Edinburgh (1979-1984) followed by a year at The Sacred Heart & St Anthony (1984) in Armadale.

In 1984 he was appointed parish priest at St Mary Magdalene's in Bingham, Edinburgh, where he ministered for five years.

He served as Treasurer for the Archdiocese for over 30 years and was a canon of the Metropolitan Chapter. Until his death was parish priest at both St Cuthbert's in Slateford, which he had served since 1989, and Our Lady, Mother of the Church, in Currie, since 1998. Illness in the weeks before his death meant he had to step back from the role. In recent years he was the Catholic Church’s representative on the City of Edinburgh Council’s Education, Children and Families Committee.

He served as a chaplain for St Cuthbert’s Primary School and St Augustine’s High School for many years.

The pile of cards in his hospital room at the Western General from primary pupils demonstrated the fondness with which he was held (hospital staff said his room was “filled with love”).

Following his death, a statement from St Augustine’s said: “He was a huge presence for us and very happy to be part of our school community.

“He loved his time here, pinching chips at lunchtime, telling you your tie was on upside down and being there for us when we needed him.”

He would take part in school ski trips and is remembered for keeping company any pupils who were unable to ski.

In 1984 he drove a minibus to Rome for pupils, camping en route, when they had an audience with the Pope. A former pupil said: “He knew exactly how to handle us. He never insisted that we attend any of the services he held in his tent. I respected him so much for that.”

Another former pupil, Judith Ralston, now a BBC weather presenter, credited Mgr Duffy with helping her become an opera singer: “This lovely man was with me all the way through my formative years. He took me to my first opera, the one that inspired me to become an opera singer.” Mgr Duffy himself was no slouch when it came to singing and at one time was a member of the Archdiocesan Cathedral Choir and the Edinburgh Festival Choir.

'True vocation'

The passing of Mgr Tony will most profoundly be felt by his family. They said: “Tony was the first port of call for family baptisms, marriages and funerals. He had no time for fuss or undue ceremony, because he didn't need it, as his liturgies demonstrated.

“In the priesthood he quite literally found his true vocation; and the grace of ordination fulfilled his natural talents.

“An only child himself, he revelled in his wider family particularly his nephews and nieces as they grew to adulthood and had their own families. He was a favourite uncle, and they will miss him enormously. As do we all.”

For a man who loved social interaction and ministering to people, the pastoral constraints of lockdown, which restricted visits to care homes and closed schools, chafed with him before illness took over.

He died peacefully at the Western General in the early hours of Wednesday 12 May 2021 fortified by the rites of Holy Church. He was 73. His funeral took place at St Cuthbert’s on Tuesday 25 May and his final resting place is with his mother and father at the city’s Mount Vernon Catholic Cemetery.

With attendance restrictions in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, it meant far fewer people were at the funeral than would be expected for a man who made a profound and positive impact in the Archdiocese and in Lourdes.

Mgr Anthony Canon Duffy, 27 May 1947 – 12 May 2021



Obituary: The Reverend Hugh Purcell

Hugh Purcell (1958-2020) died unexpectedly at St John Vianney’s parish house in Gilmerton, Edinburgh. He was 62 years old.

He was born on 06 August 1958 and baptised at St Margaret’s in Loanhead. He studied for the priesthood at the Pontifical Beda College in Rome and was ordained at Our Lady’s in Currie in 2000.

This year marked the 20th anniversary of his ordination. In a Mass of Thanksgiving at Our Lady of Loretto church in Musselburgh Fr Purcell spoke openly of his addiction issues and his deep love and thanks to God.

He said: “The more I’m around and trying to stay in recovery a day at a time I do realise better what St Paul’s words essentially mean – that love is the greatest of the virtues. So it’s in love and thanksgiving that I offer up this Mass…I thank Him deeply for these 20 years.”

Andy McColl and Jill Hardy were married by Fr Hugh in 2011. He is greatly missed by them.

In July last year he had moved to the parish house in Musselburgh, a placed he “loved”. There he received support and friendship from parish priest Fr Basil Clark, who studied at the Beda College with him.

Fr Basil said: “I will miss his humour and earthy goodness. He was enormously kind and compassionate, especially to people with addiction problems - he was willing to travel miles for them.”

Fr Hugh was well known across the Archdiocese having served in parishes in the Borders, East Lothian and Edinburgh.

Archbishop Cushley said: “My sincere condolences go to the family and friends of Fr Hugh. The Archdiocese and many of the clergy, laity and friends, especially in these last months, endeavoured to assist him with his problems about which he was very honest, and I’m very grateful to all of them. May he rest in peace.”

Tributes flooded onto our Facebook page this morning (Wednesday 07 Oct) when we announced the news.

Silvia Maccagnano said: “Fr Hugh held a special place in my family’s heart. He was so good to my parents during his time at St Mary’s Cathedral. RIP and heartfelt condolences to his family and friends.”

Sally Flowers posted: “Rest in peace Father. He was such a lovely man. We were blessed to have him at St Mary’s for a while. I loved his homilies and he said Mass so beautifully. Now he’s in his true home.”

Fr Hugh is survived by a brother and two sisters.

Tributes paid to dedicated priest Fr Joe Millar

Tributes have been made to Joe Miller, a dedicated priest of St Patrick's Missionary Society, who died peacefully on Tuesday, in Strathcarron Hospice, Stirlingshire.

In our Archdiocese he served in the parishes of St Mary’s in Bathgate, St Francis Xavier’s in Falkirk and, latterly, in St Margaret of Scotland and Holy Spirit parishes, Stirling.

After news of his passing, tributes poured in on our Facebook page from parishioners across the Archdiocese.

Theresa Leach wrote: "Fr Joe married my husband and myself 37years ago in Malawi and played a special part in my parents' life and ours."

Amanda Timmony Pennock wrote: "Always a pleasure to have him celebrate Mass at St Modan’s High School. He will be greatly missed by our school community."

Anna Reidy wrote: "A 'Staneyburn Bairn', he'll be missed by many and was so well thought off. God Bless you Father Joe."

St Patrick's Missionary Society published the below obituary, highlighting a life dedicated to Christ and His Church.

Obituary, Fr Joe Millar (1945 – 2020)

Fr Joseph (Joe) Millar was from West Lothian, Scotland. After leaving school Joe trained as a baker and worked for five years in the profession. He was very involved in his local parish and was a leading member of the youth group. At that time St Patrick’s Missionary Society was about to open a secondary school for young men who would like to become missionary priests but who had not completed their secondary education. St Patrick’s, Buchlyvie, opened its doors in September 1965 and among its first students was Joe. He was ordained in Our Lady’s Church, Stoneyburn, on the 12th of June 1974.


After ordination Joe was appointed to Malawi where he ministered in the Diocese of Chikwawa. He worked in Molere and in Ngabu. He was also appointed Vocations Director for the Diocese. He returned to Scotland in 1978 to become Vocations Director for the Society in Scotland. Joe returned to Chikwawa in 1982. He worked as Bishop’s Secretary and also taught Bible Knowledge in the Junior Seminary (Mzimu Woyera). In 1988 he returned to Scotland where he spent three years in the Archdiocese of St Andrew’s and Edinburgh. He served in St Mary’s Church, Bathgate and in St Francis Xavier Church, Falkirk. In 1991 he was appointed Superior of St Patrick’s, Buchlyvie. In 1998 he was appointed to the Diocese of Witbank in South Africa. Ill-health forced him to return home after a short while. In 1999 he was appointed to the Society’s Promotion House at East Molesey where he served on the promotion team until 2004. For some of that period in East Molesey he was Assistant Superior for England and Wales and later Superior for England and Wales.

Our Archdiocese

In 2004 Joe returned to the Archdiocese of St Andrew’s and Edinburgh and was appointed Parish Priest of St Margaret of Scotland Parish in Stirling. This was to be his home until 2016 when he retired to Dunblane. They were very happy and fulfilled years and his kind and compassionate ministry to the people was very much appreciated. He was in his element in the midst of the people of God. Joe served in many Society jobs during his nearly forty six years of priesthood. He was a very dedicated and committed missionary priest who found deep personal fulfilment in his ministry to others. Joe had a rock solid faith in the love and compassion of God and he shared it graciously with all those he encountered in his ministry. He had a wonderful sense of humour and his hearty laughter would fill the room as he enjoyed the company of his many friends.

Joe became ill in August 2019. He bore his illness with great courage and steadfast faith, keeping his characteristic good spirits up to the very end. In early March 2020 his condition deteriorated. He died peacefully in Strathcarron Hospice on the 31st of March. May he rest in peace.

Obituary: Monsignor Brian Provost Halloran

Tributes have been paid to a popular priest who ‘gave joyful service to his people’.

Monsignor Brian Provost Halloran died suddenly on Sunday evening, 1 March, at his home in North Berwick. He was 84.

He was parish priest at Our Lady, Star of the Sea, in the town, which he had served since 2015.

Archbishop Leo Cushley said: “Brian Halloran loved being a priest and was an example of hard work and joyful service of his people. He was the best of the old school and served us for 60 years. He died an active priest – those who knew him would agree that would have been his wish. He was a good man and a fine priest. May he rest in peace.”

Mgr Brian was born in Aberdeen before his family returned to Edinburgh, where he attended Holy Cross Primary before heading to Blairs junior seminary. His path to the priesthood continued at St Andrew’s College, the seminary in Drygrange, and he was part of the first intake of students when it opened in 1953.

Father Andrew Forrest, of St Mary of the Assumption in Bo’ness was in the same year as Mgr Brian at St Andrew’s College.

He said: “He was very dedicated and meticulous in doing things the best he could for the diocese, as a priest of the diocese. He stuck to the old principles that have stood the test of time. He will be missed.”

Fondly remembered
Mgr Brian was ordained at St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh in 1959 and served at various parishes across the Archdiocese.He is fondly remembered in St Andrews, where he was parish priest at St James’ Church from 1987 to 2010.

Fr Scott Deeley, chancellor of the Archdiocese, was a student at the university while Mgr Brian was its chaplain.

He said: “I know that many St Andrews alumni will be remembering Monsignor Halloran today with great fondness. He was a dedicated priest and an influence for great good in the lives of many young people. May he rest in peace.”

While in St Andrews, Mgr Brian wrote a PhD thesis that led to the publication of his respected book The Scots College, Paris, 1603-1792. He also later carried out missionary work, helping spread the gospel in Armenia (2005) and China (2006). He spent a year in Yendi, Ghana in 2010 as part of a sabbatical.

He was the senior priest of the Archdiocese and Provost of the Metropolitan Cathedral Chapter.

Responding to the news of his death, parishioners from across the Archdiocese paid tribute on social media.

Mary-Alex Hughes said: “A great priest, gentle and kind. Condolences to his lovely family.”

Requiescat in pace.

Parish appointments

1959 -1967 Sacred Heart & St Anthony, Armadale

1967-1972 St Margaret Mary's, Edinburgh

1972-1977 St John the Evangelist, Portobello

1977-1978 St Andrew's, Livingstone

1978-1987 St Agatha's, Methil

1987-2010 St James, St Andrews

2005-2010 Christ the King, Pittenweem

2005-2010 Most Holy Trinity, Crail

2010-2011 Sabbatical, Ghana

2011-2015 St Paul's, Edinburgh

2011-2015 St Margaret's, Edinburgh

2015-2020 Our Lady Star of the Sea, North Berwick


Obituary: James Canon Friel, a loving pastor of souls

The Very Rev James Canon Friel, who has died aged 86, was a loving pastor of souls renowned for his intelligence, love of music and teaching ability.

Parishioners at St Mary’s in Haddington, where he served from 1993 to 2013, fondly remember him.

Friend Allan Doyle said: “During Fr Jim’s tenure in Haddington the old organ gave up. We looked at all sorts of options for replacement, including a new pipe organ which would have cost a very large amount of money.

“He was keen to do the right thing to support the church and enhance the liturgy, but couldn’t bring himself to go ahead. He looked at me and said, ‘God didn’t put us here to buy organs – that money must be used to do good.’ A digital alternative was sourced instead.”

At his Golden Jubilee Mass in 2006, pupils from St Mary’s Primary presented Canon Friel with his own stole. It included images of his favourite things, including The Eucharist, coffee, chocolate, football and france.

Mr Doyle added: “He was so delighted with this work of art that he refused to wear it under his chasuble, saying, ‘It wouldn’t be fair to the children to hide their beautiful work’. He wore the stole on all the children’s special occasions.”

Becoming a priest

James Friel was born and raised in Lennoxtown and was one of eight children.

Sister Claire Gonet said: “Mum wanted him to finish St Ninian’s before going to Blairs (junior seminary) but he insisted, and our parish priest at the time said you might as well let him go now because he’s going to go anyway!

“He was the first to have a car and he used to take us trips down the coast – so I remember him being the fun brother.”

After Blairs he attended St Sulpice in Paris, as a seminarian of the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh.

Fr Thomas McNulty attended both Blairs and St Sulpice with him and they were ordained to the priesthood together at St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh on 5th August 1956.

Fr McNulty said: “He was an extremely intelligent person and a good preacher. I remember as a deacon he was the only one among us invited to preach during advent in St Sulpice. His French was very good to be given that accolade.

“It’s quite remarkable that, 65 years later, I can still remember he preached about John the Baptist being used by God to prepare the way for the Lord.”

Immediately following ordination, he served for 14 years on the seminary staff at both Blairs and St Vincent’s College at Langbank in Renfrewshire. He then served as Archbishop’s Secretary to Cardinal Gordon Joseph Gray and also in the parish of St Mary’s in Leslie, Fife.

Parish life

Canon Friel's longest periods in parish life, however, came in Stirlingshire and East Lothian with many years of service given to the parishes of Christ the King in Grangemouth (1983-1993) and St Mary’s in Haddington (1993-2013).

He loved animals and nature and often had a family dog to stay in the presbytery. In Haddington he enjoyed his pot garden at the back door which also housed extensive bird feeding paraphernalia. This inspired the opening him of his requiem Mass, and one of his favourites, 'All Creatures of our God and King'.

For the last two years, he lived at the Holy Rosary Residence care home in Greenock. He concelebrated daily Mass up until a week before his death when he became unwell.

Claire, a volunteer at the care home, said: “The staff here called him ‘the smiler’– he always looked content. He was a very vibrant priest - he was a servant of God and did that to the best of his ability. He was a talented teacher and a very loving pastor.”

Canon Friel died peacefully at the Holy Rosary Residence on Tuesday 24th December.

The requiem Mass takes place today (Monday 6th January) at St Mary’s Church in Haddington, with burial at St Mary’s Cemetery.

Very Rev James Canon Friel, 09/09/33 - 24/12/19. Requiescat in pace et amore.