Archdiocesan Review of the Year 2020

Here's a look at just some of the news from across the Archdiocese in an eventful 2020.


-Parishioners from across the Archdiocese came together to attend the annual pro-life Mass at St Margaret’s Chapel in the Gillis Centre, followed by a chance to socialise.

-The Requiem Mass for the Very Rev James Canon Friel, who died aged 86, took place at St Mary’s Church in Haddington, with burial at St Mary’s Cemetery.

-The Very Reverend Nick Welsh, then parish priest at Our Lady & St Andrew in Galashiels, was appointed the Vicar Episcopal for Catholic Education for the Archdiocese.

-Archbishop Leo Cushley headed to Washington as part of a week-long stint at the International Commission of English in the Liturgy (ICEL).

-Professor David Jones was the keynote speaker at an Archdiocesan Bioethics Day held at the Gillis Centre, Edinburgh

-Archbishop Leo Cushley paid tribute to the role of the Augustinian community at the Annual Day for Religious in Edinburgh.


-The first 'Ask Me Anything' event was held by our vocations team and featured Sister Mary Margaret, of the Sisters of Nazareth in Bonnyrigg.

-People crammed into the Gillis Centre in Edinburgh for the Archdiocesan Day for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion.

-The UK’s leading Catholic university announced it will launch postgraduate courses in Scotland for the first time. St Mary’s University, Twickenham, agreed arrangements with the Archdiocese for a range of subjects to be taught at the Gillis Centre.

-Archbishop Leo Cushley led the Ash Wednesday service at the Scottish Parliament.


-Tributes were paid to Monsignor Brian Provost Halloran who died suddenly at his home in North BerwickHe was 84.

-Dr Adrian Treloar and Sister Andrea Fraile spoke at the Archdiocesan mini-symposium on gender theory at the Gillis Centre.

-Parishioners paid tribute to the positive impact of the Augustinians as the order left St Joseph’s, Broomhouse, after 25 years.

-Archbishop Cushley released this message to parishioners following the suspension of public Mass due to the Coronavirus outbreak.


-Tributes were made to Fr Joe Miller, a priest of St Patrick's Missionary Society, who died peacefully in Strathcarron Hospice, Stirlingshire.

Archbishop Leo Cushley gave an Easter message of hope when he appeared on BBC1 Scotland's Reflections at the Quay.

-Priest School aired on the BBC Scotland channel giving viewers access to life as a seminarian at the Pontifical Scots College in Rome.

-Tributes were paid to Sister Mary Steedman RSM (Sisters of Mercy) who passed away peacefully at the Rosehill Care Home in Dalkeith. She was 86 and had cancer.


-Fr Chris Heenan of St Margaret's Church in Dunfermline became a social media hit after performing with his accordian on Facebook to lift spirits during lockdown.

-Archbishop Cushley rededicated the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh to the Immaculate Heart of Mary on the Feast of Our Lady of Fátima.

-Tributes were paid to a priest of our diocese who served the poor in Central America. Fr Thomas Greenan died peacefully at St Margaret’s Care Home in Edinburgh. He had been suffering from Alzheimer’s and was 64 years old.

-St Joseph's in Peebles opened its doors to welcome the local Foodbank who urgently needed a new location due to spiralling demand during the Covid-19 lockdown.


-Sr Aelrid Timmins, of the Sisters of Mercy in Edinburgh, appeared on a BBC religious programme to explain the founding of the Order.

-Churches re-opened for private prayer

-Fr Nick Welsh was chosen by the Bishops' Conference of Scotland to be the new vice rector of the Pontifical Scots College in Rome.

-Archbishop Cushley appeared on BBC Radio Scotland to share his thoughts on what the gradual easing of lockdown might mean for Catholic churches in Scotland.


-A Lourdes pilgrim was delighted when her idea to request a plenary indulgence for those attending a virtual pilgrimage in the Archdiocese was granted by the Vatican.

-The Archdiocese said farewell to Fr John O’Connor OP, parish priest and superior at St Albert's Chaplaincy at the University of Edinburgh, who was appointed to a new post in Oxford.

-A Midnight Mass at St Mary's Cathedral marked the return of public worship in Edinburgh.

-Family and friends celebrated the ordination of Fr Samuel Burke OP to the Sacred Priesthood at St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh.


-The Archdiocese welcomed two new deacons at St Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh - Martin Eckersley and Bobby Taylor.

-Sunday Rosary sessions helped inspire parishioners in Queensferry, Dalmeny and Kirkliston to create a cookbook. Over thirty budding chefs got creative to raise funds for St Margaret's Parish.

-Tributes were paid to Father Donald McGlynn OCSO, Abbot emeritus of Sancta Maria Abbey, Nunraw in East Lothian, who died aged 86 and who had been a member of the Cistercians for over 65 years.


-Holy Mass with Archbishop Cushley was broadcast on national TV. The Catholic Church in Scotland welcomed more religious coverage on the channel during lockdown.

-Tributes were paid to Sr Immaculata Murray RSM who died on 12 September. She was 93.

-On the tenth anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI's apostolic journey to the UK, Archbishop Cushley reflected on the historic visit.

-The Archdiocese welcomed three Religious Sisters of Mercy (RSM) to Edinburgh - Sr Edith Mary was appointed Clergy Welfare Co-ordinator (assisting retired clergy) Sr Anna Marie became Catechetics Advisor, while and Sr Miriam Fidelis was appointed to assist at St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh.


-Tributes were paid to Fr Hugh Purcell who died at St John Vianney’s parish house in Gilmerton, Edinburgh. He was 62 years old.

-Fr Andrew Garden hosted a Zoom event on St Mark's Gospel, to help prepare people for a new liturgical year.

-The Religious Sisters of Mercy (RSM) led the Archdiocese in prayer as part of the National Rosary Relay Rally.

-The Archdiocese announced a new Diploma in Catechetics - a year-long course to help people spread the Good News!


-Catherine Wylie, of the Catholic Grandparents Association, hosted an event for grandparents' on their mission in the Church and family.

-Four areas in the Archdiocese were moved into level four restrictions, reducing Mass attendance from 50 to 20.

-A Great Toy Giveaway appeal saw hundreds of gifts donated to St Francis Xavier's Parish in Falkirk.

-Four priests were renewed in their roles as Vicar Episcopal for the Archdiocese: Frs Basil Clark (Caritas, Justice & Peace), Daniel Doherty (Catechetics), Jeremy Milne (Marriage & Families) and Jeremy Bath (Ecumenism).

-A pro-life Advent Rosary was held over four weeks to pray for the unborn and their mothers and all pro-life intentions.


-Level 4 restrictions were lifted for several parts of the Archdiocese, meaning many parishes returned to having a maximum of 50 people at Mass.

-A national pastoral letter from Scotland's Catholic Bishops highlighted “reasons for hope, as we live through these difficult times”.

-Pope Francis proclaimed a Year of St Joseph, from 08 December 2020 to 08 December 2021.

-Archbishop Cushley shared his Christmas message with parishioners, as he reflected on a difficult year for us all.

-Schools across the Archdiocese kept Christ in Christmas to contribute pictures to our Silent Night Christmas video gallery.

For all our videos from this year, visit our YouTube channel.

Review of the Year 2019


Young pilgrims returned home to the Archdiocese after attending World Youth Day 2019 along with 700,000 others in the Central American state of Panama.

The Catholic App, the GPS-powered Mass and Confession finder, became available in seven different languages.

A new pro-life group launched in the parish of Our Lady & St Andrew in the Scottish Borders. “It’s been very heartening to witness a new flourishing of pro-life activity across the parishes of the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh,” said Paul Atkin, Archdiocesan Pro-life Officer.


Over 300 children submitted poster designs in a competition to promote the annual St Margaret's Pilgrimage. Archbishop Cushley spent a morning with artist Ian Moir and graphic designer Colin Hughes, choosing a winning design.

The first ever reconstruction of Inverkeithing’s 14th century Franciscan Friary was published, based upon recent survey and excavation work at the West Fife site.

It was announced that the relics of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux were to visit Scotland for the first time ever, from 30 August to 20 September 2019.

Betty Stevens, benefactor of the Canmore Catholic Chaplaincy at the University of St Andrews, died. She was 101 years old.


Altar Servers from across the Archdiocese were invited to join the newly established Guild of St Cuthbert.

Archbishop Cushley issued a joint statement with Imam Sayed Razawi of the Scottish Ahlul Bayt Society following shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

The pro-life campaign, 40 Days for Life, began its peaceful public witnesses across the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh in order to pray for an end to abortion.

Archbishop Cushley issued a pastoral letter to the clergy and lay faithful of the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh calling for prayer, penance and acts of charity to be offered for all those who are victims of abuse.

Edinburgh City Council rejected proposals to ban peaceful pro-life prayer vigils after an official internal report found that there was “no overwhelming evidence” the such vigils caused “unnecessary distress”.


A new shrine venerating Saint Oscar Romero (1917-80) at the Church of the Sacred Heart, Edinburgh, was officially consecrated by Archbishop Cushley.

Young adults gathered for a Palm Sunday event at the Gillis Centre in Edinburgh.

One of the busiest streets of Edinburgh played host to Scotland’s annual Pro-Life Chain, organised by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children Scotland and supported by the Archdiocese.

Ten converts were received into the Church at the Easter Vigil at St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh.


Over 180 married couples attended the Archdiocese's first ever Celebration of Marriage in St Mary’s Cathedral.

Pupils from across the Archdiocese received their Caritas Awards in Glasgow.

Headteachers from across the Archdiocese gathered at the Gillis Centre in Edinburgh for a day of reflection on the centrality of the Eucharist to the life of the Catholic school.

Tributes were paid following the death of The Right Reverend Joseph Devine, Bishop Emeritus of Motherwell. Archbishop Leo Cushley said: “He was a generous and wise pastor of souls and as a young priest I learned a great deal from him."


Lisamaria Purdie was named Headteacher of the Year at the Scottish Education Awards 2019 in Glasgow for her outstanding work at St Ninian's Primary School in Livingston.

The Archdiocese warned that a Green Party proposal to strip the Catholic community of its voting rights on the City of Edinburgh’s Education Committee could seriously undermine the harmonious relationship between the council and the Catholic community.

Author and speaker Dr Janet Smith discussed 'The Courage to Proclaim the Gospel in Difficult Times' the Gillis Centre, Edinburgh.

Holy Mass was offered amid the ruins of St Mary's Abbey, Melrose, during a St Mary's Cathedral Young Adults Group pilgrimage to the Roxburghshire town.


Patrick Harrigan was ordained to the Holy Priesthood at St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh. Archbishop Cushley encouraged him to “imitate the sacred heart of the Lord”.

William McQuillan was ordained to the Holy Priesthood at St Margaret’s parish in Dunfermline. Archbishop Cushley said: “It is providential that we have the opportunity to reflect upon the faith of Thomas, as we gather tonight (on the Feast of St Thomas the Apostle)...for William is to become an alter Christus, another Christ in our midst.”

Pilgrims took part in the annual Archdiocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes.

Doris Forsyth, 94, was awarded the Archdiocesan Medal for Outstanding Service to the Church by Archbishop Cushley. She has been a parishioner at St Teresa of Lisieux in Craigmillar, Edinburgh, for more than 70 years, since arriving from India in 1944.

Archbishop Cushley urged parishioners to to fight a Green Party proposal intended to strip the Catholic community of its voting rights on the City of Edinburgh’s Education Committee. He launched a campaign encouraging them to ask local councillors to vote against the motion to ensure schools “continue to flourish”.


The music of world famous Scottish composer Sir James MacMillan was celebrated at the annual Festival Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh.

Fr Tom Molloy celebrated 60 years of priesthood at a Mass of Thanksgiving for the Redemptorist priest held at St Cuthbert's in Edinburgh.

Tributes were paid following the death of Stephen Canon Judge, 84, who died peacefully  at St Anne’s Care Home in Musselburgh. Archbishop Cushley said: "Canon Stephen was a good and shrewd pastor of souls. He touched many people’s lives positively in his many years of priesthood."

Young people from the Archdiocese took part in Project Truth, a youth-led pro-life initiative that discusses the truth of abortion on Scotland's streets.


Pilgrims flocked to Edinburgh for the visit of the relics of St Thérèse of Lisieux. The relics of the French Carmelite nun toured Scotland in what is believed to be the biggest religious event in the country since the visit of Pope Benedict in 2012.

Altar servers made history by becoming the first members of the Guild of St Cuthbert in the Archdiocese.

A Tranent teacher thanked colleagues family and friends after becoming a Catholic deacon. Eddie White, who teaches maths at Ross High, was ordained to the permanent diaconate at St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh.

Over one hundred parishioners from across the Archdiocese gathered to reflect on Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ at the Gillis Centre.


Dedicated parishioner Kathleen Steyn received the Archdiocesan Medal from Archbishop Cushley following Mass at Ss John Cantius & Nicholas, Broxburn.

John Wilson, Archbishop of Southwark, visited Edinburgh to speak at an Archdiocesan event titled Your Marriage is Your Vocation.

Headteacher Lisamaria Purdie, of St Ninian's Primary School in Livingston, received another award. She was named Headteacher of the Year at a Primary School at the 2019 Pearson Training Awards, screened on BBC2.


A Carmelite nun approaching her 80th year received her Master's degree in Theology from Saint Patrick’s College, Maynooth, Ireland. Sister Mary of the Holy Spirit is a nun based at the Carmelite Monastery in Dysart, near Kirkcaldy.

Sister Mirjam Hugens FSO was appointed director for religious vocations in the Archdiocese of St Andrews & Edinburgh. It is the first time a diocese in Scotland created the position. She joined Father Andrew Garden, who was appointed the new director for priestly vocations.

Archbishop Leo Cushley thanked Catholics in the Archdiocese who visit prisons after he chatted with prisoners and staff at HMP Edinburgh  as part of Prisoners' Week.

Politicians across Scotland backed Catholic schools in a powerful show of cross-party support at Holyrood. They discussed the 'positive contribution' of Catholic education to Scotland since the foundation of the 1918 Education act, following a motion made by Elaine Smith MSP.


Pupils and parishioners from across the Archdiocese slept on the street in Edinburgh to highlight the plight of the homeless, as part of the annual World's Big Sleep Out event.

Christians of all denominations attended the annual Nativity Carol Concert on the Mound in Edinburgh. Archbishop Cushley blessed the crib.

A former Anglican clergyman was 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.

Margaret Creamer received the Benemerenti medal from Archbishop Leo Cushley at Ss Ninian and Triduana Church in Edinburgh for her work in the parish community over many years.