Students visit Edinburgh for holy relic of St Margaret

Archbishop Cushley welcomed students from the Catholic Society of St Andrews University today (Thursday 2 October) to collect a holy relic of St Margaret.

They visited St Margaret's Chapel at the Gillis Centre, Edinburgh, with university chaplain Fr Michael John Galbraith.

Students venerate the relic of St Margaret with Fr Michael John Galbraith.

He said: "When I heard the relics were available, I jumped at the chance because our Canmore Chaplaincy is dedictated to St Margaret.

"The students here today are very involved in life at the chaplaincy and very devout in their own faith - they are delighted to visit Edinburgh and receive the relic of St Margaret, which will be displayed for veneration at the Canmore chaplaincy at the university."

Archbishop Cushley told students about the background of the relics of St Margaret.

Maria Alexandra Vlachogiani, a third year Maths student, said: "A lot of Christians find their home at the chaplaincy in St Andrews and Fr Michael John is always there to support us."

The Archdiocese was approached by parishes dedicated to St Margaret after the relic fragmented while being removed from its reliquary at St Margaret's Church in Dunfermline in 2019.

The monstrance holding the relic of St Margaret and the official certificate confirming its authenticity.

That meant smaller relics were made available and parishes from Scotland and further afield (including Chile) petitioned the Archdiocese to entrust a relic for veneration by the faithful there. The smaller relics are from the scapular bone of the Saint.

The students in the main picture are Ella Balet, Blake Boehne, Veronica Harris, Christopher Levesque, Jovana Joseph, Matthew Matisz, Hannah Menezes, Jarrett Miller and Maria Alexandra Vlachogiani.

Find out more about the Canmore Catholic Chaplaincy at or follow them on Facebook.

Music and joy at inaugural St Margaret's Lecture and Choral Mass

The music of Sir James Macmillan filled St Salvator's Chapel in St Andrews on Wednesday after he gave a stirring talk on 'Christianity and Music'in the inaugural St Margaret Lecture and Sung Choral Mass.

Fr Michael John Galbraith, Catholic chaplain to the University, said: "This is a new joint venture between the School of Divinity at the university and Canmore Catholic Chaplaincy.

"They are the fruit of ecumenical outreach and discussions and it was a joy to welcome Sir James MacMillan as the inaugural speaker.

"It was thrilling to hear St Salvator's Chapel Choir sing so beautifully at the choral Mass. As well as helping raise their minds and hearts to God, for many it brought back fond memories of Pope Benedict's visit in 2010, for which the Mass was written.

"A number of our parishioners were able to join in as the Mass parts are easy to learn and our student schola rehearsed them beforehand.

He added: "As well as having what someone told me was the largest academic procession in St Salvator's that they'd ever seen, it was thoroughly ecumenical, with people from many different Christian denominations, and perhaps none."

In his homily, Archbishop Leo Cushley said it was a "fitting gesture" that the new annual lecture bears the name of St Margaret.

He said: "In this sacred place, we are reminded of much of the circumstances around the birth of the University.

"Among the threads of history that arrive here, is the desire of Scots leaders stretching back to people like St Margaret, who wished to see Scotland a better country, politically, ecclesiastically, socially, intellectually.

"Higher education wasn’t merely about utility or prestige: it was a means of furthering the progress of the nation.  At its most noble, it was also a means for pursuing the good and the truth.

"St Margaret was a committed Christian and a social reformer, and she understood all this well. She was one of the greatest women Scotland has ever known, and one of the most significant champions of social, political and ecclesiastical improvement we have ever had, and she is almost the first such leader in Scotland that we can point to.  That the annual lecture we are instituting today bears her name is a fitting gesture."

He finished: "May God bless the University of St Andrews, and may it ever excel in its pursuit of goodness and truth."

Other priests present were Fr Andrew Kingham (the previous Catholic chaplain) and priests who were graduates from the university - Fr Scott Deeley, Fr Kevin Douglas and Fr Liam O'Connor.







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.

Explore it

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.”




National Youth Pilgrimage: 'devotion of our young people was moving'

“The National Youth Pilgrimage to St Andrews on Saturday was a wonderful occasion. It was both moving and great fun to be there with all the young adults who were in public to witness to their faith.

"One example of that was together taking a relic of St Andrew and - for the first time I know in centuries - we were able to sing the litany of the saints (which included many Scottish saints) in the ruins of the cathedral of St Andrews. The young people were then blessed with that relic.

"We were also joined by a Church of Scotland minister in the town who had welcomed us into the Kirk there. So it wasn’t just a Catholic event, it was a Christian event and even if I may say, an ecumenical event.

"Our young people embraced the whole thing with enthusiasm and with a great spirit of stillness and prayer and that was a beautiful thing to do. Afterwards we celebrated Mass in St James’s Parish Church and the great devotion of our young people was moving

"The National Youth Pilgrimage was a beautiful, happy, occasion and I look forward to next year. We haven’t yet decided where, but it will be somewhere that I’m sure will put us in touch with our deep Christian roots in this country.

"I look forward to it…and also hope the weather will be slightly kinder!"

Archbishop Leo Cushley

Young Catholics promote National Youth Pilgrimage

Young Catholics in the Archdiocese are highlighting the social and spiritual benefits of getting together on pilgrimage.

They are helping promote the National Catholic Youth Pilgrimage, taking place in St Andrews on Saturday 31st August.

A social media campaign has been launched to boost the event.

Victoria Stephens, a parishioner at St Cuthbert’s in Edinburgh, said: “For me, it’s a great way to form a network of Catholic friends who can give you support in your daily life and where you can be yourself.”

Ciaran McGonigle, from Our Lady & St Bridget’s Parish in West Calder, said: “Journeying together on pilgrimage deepens our understanding of the path that God is calling us to.”

Fr Jamie McMorrin, priest at St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh, said: “People have been coming to St Andrews on pilgrimage for more than a thousand years.

“The young people who are the future of the church in this country are keeping this historic tradition alive today. It’ll be a great way to meet other young Catholics, have a lot of fun and, most importantly, draw closer to Jesus who calls us all – like Andrew – to follow Him.”

Melissa Marshall, who attends St Patrick’s Parish in the Cowgate, Edinburgh, recently returned from the Archdiocesan Pilgrimage to Lourdes, which she has attended six times. She said: “A pilgrimage is a time to pray, reflect and share your faith with different people.”

Archbishop Leo Cushley added: "Young people are looking again for an authentic expression of the Catholic faith, that is true to its roots in Scotland and in communion with the universal church.

"St Andrew is one natural and historic link we have with all of that, and so I think we are going to have an uplifting, enriching experience in St Andrews. It’ll be an adventure too, as all pilgrimages are!"

The National Catholic Youth Pilgrimage is for people aged 16-30 and begins at St James’ Church Hall, The Scores, at 12pm. Pilgrims will be welcomed by Archbishop Cushley before a visit to historical sites and churches. Mass will be celebrated in the grounds of St Andrews Cathedral at 3pm. To book a place email