Archbishop's homily - ordination of Fr Josh Moir

Here is the Homily of Archbishop Leo Cushley from the Priestly Ordination of Fr Josh Moir at Our Lady & St Andrew’s, Galashiels, 28 June.


My dear friends, a very warm welcome to our Archdiocese and to Galashiels, as we gather for the Ordination to the priesthood of your relative and friend, Josh.

For the second year in a row, I am very pleased to be able to celebrate a priestly ordination here, in Our Lady & St Andrew’s.  And I am again in debt to Fr Andrew Kingham, and to all in the parish who have prepared both the sacred and the social parts of our celebration this evening.

We also gather again around the Feast of the great Apostles of the Roman Church, Saints Peter and Paul.  In their different ways, Peter and Paul helped to found a church in Rome that held on through extremely difficult times with exemplary faith and courage.  And we here look with pride to what they achieved, because we too are sons and daughters of the Church of Rome.

Those first Roman Christians buried their dead in the now famous catacombs, and they occasionally had to hide there from the authorities when the state became intolerant of Christianity, and it became dangerous simply to hold the tenets of our faith.

To this day, the catacombs show us traces of the faith and love of our ancient brothers and sisters, in monuments, inscriptions and even frescoes that have survived.  And, among the images that have come down to us from those dark times is one of the Good Shepherd, seen as a beardless Roman youth, carrying a lamb on his shoulders.

For us, as a version of the Good Shepherd, it’s a little unusual, but it’s a beautiful, serene, confidence-inspiring image.

It’s also interesting to compare it, created by persecuted Christians, with the Psalm that inspires it.  In Psalm 22/23, we see, “The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want… The Lord gives me repose; he leads me to green pastures, at restful waters, he gives me repose…[and] even if I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me”.

These were surely words that those Christians clung to for dear life, as they were being tried and executed for simply believing what you and I believe quietly these days.

The Psalm concludes, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell forever and ever”. This Psalm, remembered in such a context, and the peaceful image of the Good Shepherd with the lamb safely over his shoulders, stands in such contrast to what was happening to them, that we are struck by their confidence in God’s mercy in the teeth of the world’s intolerance, aggression and cruelty.

Now, this image of the Good Shepherd, young, humble, brave, constant, is one that we continue look to, as another generation aspires to the priesthood.  Our seminarians are, for the most part, younger men, taken from among their kin and their peers, and set aside for sacred duties.

Our sacred ministers aren’t sacred in themselves; but they must wish, and strive, to be worthy of what they approach, and what will be their daily bread for the rest of their lives.  And we, in our turn, must support them and encourage them to be faithful to the things of God.

We are all of us able to love and respect what is sacred.  And I believe that what the young people today wish from the Church and from our example is a renewed and profound sense of the sacred. They live in the world; they are familiar with its glamour; and yet they are also drawn to what is holy.

They cannot escape living in this messy, complicated reality, but they are drawn to God’s presence; and so the solution is to propose a life that is close to people, while stepping aside from the world from time to time, to go to our private room, to be still before the Lord, to love being in His presence, and, from a store of faith and experience, draw others from the world and towards Christ.

This is something all Christians should do, but our sacred ministers do it with a consecration that sets them apart for it, not for their own sake, but on behalf of us all.

Priests are therefore set aside to intercede for us before God, especially in the Eucharist, by means of their configuration to Christ on the Cross, the great mediator between God and humanity, our High Priest, our Good Shepherd.

Josh, we hope and pray that you too will learn to imitate the Good Shepherd as you mature in the priesthood.  Be a good and simple pastor of souls, close to your people, willing to go the extra mile, gently bringing them back, and kindly looking out for them, in season and out of season.

You will be set apart from now on, but in a way that also means being approachable, open, and charitable.

Learn to be good with the Lord’s goodness, and patient with His patience.  Ask for the Lord’s grace, for yourself and for others.  And let Lord’s grace working in you be met by your own willingness, to strive always to be worthy of what is being entrusted to you today.

Be a good shepherd to all after the Lord’s own heart.  And may the Lord’s goodness and mercy follow you all the days of your life.   Amen.

ORDINATION: Archdiocese welcomes Father David Edwardson

A former Anglican clergyman has been ordained a Catholic priest at St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh.

Rev David Edwardson was joined by family and friends, including wife Moira, at the Mass at St Mary's Cathedral in the city centre.

In his homily, Archbishop Cushley said: "David has arrived at this point in his life after an adventure that has seen him in various roles.

"That has included many years’ pastoral service in the Episcopal Church, and we welcome the experience that he brings with him into the service upon which he now embarks among us.

"All priests...endeavour to follow the Lamb wherever he goes, just as He followed His Father’s will perfectly, to the Cross and beyond. A priest serves others, not himself, but his life is also one that is full of consolation.  Our life is placed at the disposal of others, just like our Master’s, but our life is also one of deep joy."

He told Rev Edwardson: "You will become the channel by which the Eucharist is celebrated, as food for their journey, and as the presence of the Living Lord among His people, on their way to the Promised Land.

"This is the greatest privilege that can be bestowed on anyone here: treasure, therefore, this great gift that is being entrusted to you, and strive to be faithful to it and consistent in it, both in your public and private life.

"Today you promise to consecrate your life to God for the sake of your people: do so with a full heart and with tireless patience and zeal. You will renew your promise of respect and obedience to me and my successors.  This is no idle commitment, but a most solemn undertaking.

"Finally, do not fail in the important work of charity, which reveals the face of Christ, God made Man, among us, having a special care for the poor and the weak and the outcast.

"Do all these things with simplicity, in purity of heart and with openness to God’s will, and fulfil these oaths with the grace of God."

Father Edwardson said: "My thanks must go to Bishop Nicholas Chamberlain who in many ways represents my friends from my Anglican days. Nick supported me back then and his presence here today is much appreciated.

"I also thank the people of St Mary’s, Kelso, who are here in numbers. Their warm welcome, their strong faith and love for the church has been inspirational."

Read Archbishop Cushley's full homily here.

(All images: Paul McSherry)

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.

New priest Patrick encouraged to imitate Sacred Heart of Jesus

A new priest welcomed by the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh has been encouraged to “imitate the sacred heart of the Lord”.

Patrick Harrigan was ordained on Friday evening at St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh.

The Ordination Mass took place on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, with Archbishop Leo Cushley telling Patrick to give his “whole heart” to the work of the sacred priesthood.

He said: “Imitate the Sacred Heart of the Lord, whose sacrifice on the cross, mingled with water and blood, reminds us not just of his love for all, but of the means by which that love is still communicated today, that is the sacraments, especially when celebrated with a single-minded devotion.”

He also called on Patrick to be an “exemplary pastor of souls”, adding “in that way, and with God’s grace at hand, you will be a good man, a holy priest and a great comfort to souls, no matter how sweet or bitter their circumstances”.

Patrick’s first blessing as a priest was to mum Eileen and sister Bernadette (left), before he blessed friends and other members of the congregation.

Speaking prior to the ordination, Patrick said he was most looking forward to “being able to offer people access to the sacraments – especially to the Eucharist and to Reconciliation - to catechesis and to preaching and teaching the Word of God”.

He added: “I hope I can help people to realise both the importance of prayer and especially how much God loves them where they are.”

During his long vocation journey he had worked as a teacher and was a student for the Carmelites in Osterley in England, from 1980-83.

Patrick spent four years studying for the priesthood at the Pontifical Beda College in Rome, taking further studies for a licence degree at the Angelicum University in the city, working hard to obtain a first. He received an academic biretta for the achievement (see bottom picture).

Douglas Greene, a first year student at the Beda College said: "I spent a year with Patrick at the Beda and he has become a good friend, as well as a mentor. He’s always positive and is now looking forward to doing God’s work. It’s been such an uplifting evening."

Father Patrick has been appointed as assistant priest at St Mary's in Stirling.



(All pics: Paul McSherry)

Q&A: Patrick prepares for the priesthood

Deacon Patrick Harrigan describes his path to the priesthood ahead of his ordination at St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh on Friday...

What are you most looking forward to in your ministry?
To being able to offer people access to the sacraments – especially to the Eucharist and to Reconciliation - to catechesis and to preaching and teaching the Word of God. I hope I can help people to realise both the importance of prayer and especially how much God loves them where they are.

When did you decide you wanted to be a priest?
The idea first suggested itself a very long time ago, I guess, just as I was about to leave school – around 1980 or so – as the result of my being impressed by the personal example of holy and prayerful priests I had met, especially Carmelites and Jesuits. I remember thinking ‘I want to be like them’. I eventually spent some very happy years trying my vocation with the Carmelites from 1984 onwards, but after that – when I decided that I wanted to try to qualify as a teacher – the idea became submerged in all sorts of other practical and professional considerations. It was a very long time before it re-emerged, partly because ‘life happened’, as the saying has it, and partly because I then kept ignoring the issue!

What did you do before becoming a priest?
For the last 12 or 13 years or so before going to Rome, I lived in Edinburgh and taught in (mainly) secondary schools in that local authority area. My teaching subjects were RE and Additional Support Needs. Before that, I lived and worked down south, doing all sorts of things – Further Education teaching, shelf-stacking in supermarkets, working as a lollipop man outside a local school, being a Learning Assistant… I was also unemployed for quite a bit of the time!

What's been the best thing about living in Rome?
Undoubtedly having the opportunity to prepare well academically for priesthood by studying at the Dominican Angelicum University and being taught by some of the most expert theologians in their field; also being able to live in an international seminary environment with other men at the Pontifical Beda College and so be formed in a way that exposes you to other cultures. Those essential chances would not have been possible at home in Scotland.

And the most challenging?
Mosquitoes, humidity, living in community when you’ve spent many years living on your own, and prioritising what is most essential – ie your prayer life.

What advice would you give to other men reading this who may be considering the priesthood?
Pray about it! Remember that God is on your side and wants to help you make a good decision. Then talk to a priest you respect, perhaps the vocations director of the diocese. Have a heart open to God and to the Church and be loyal to both. Don’t be put off; things may take (a long!) time, but if it is God’s will, then it will happen. Most of all, let God love you and be open to doing his will in prayer, whatever it is!

Who has played a key role in helping you become a priest?
Gosh, far too many people to mention! My parents and family, the Carmelites, Jesuits and Dominicans, the seminarians and staff at the Milltown Institute in Dublin, at the Beda and at the Angelicum, not to mention the people and priests of all the parishes I have lived in over the years. If I could only choose one person, it would probably be the late Fr John Hughes SJ who was on the staff at Campion House, Osterley in 1980 – a learned, holy and humble priest.

Who is your favourite saint?
Very difficult question; there are many contenders: St Therese of Lisieux, St Francis de Sales, St Thomas Aquinas! Perhaps surprisingly, I would probably choose the Dominican priest Blessed Anthony Neyrot OP. In the fifteenth century he apostatised, married and converted to Islam after ordination. He then – by the grace of God - repented of his actions and returned to the faith, to the Dominicans and to the priesthood. He stood firm in his return to the faith and was martyred in 1460. He was beatified by Pope Clement XIII in 1767. He is a very important and much-needed sign to the Church and the world that no one is beyond the grace of God’s merciful love and forgiveness.

Deacon Patrick Harrigan will be ordained to the holy priesthood at St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh. on Friday 28th June. The Mass begins at 7pm. Patrick will be assistant priest at St Mary's in Stirling.