From Bishop Joseph's Letter to the Clergy July 2012

Fr Calum MacLellan RIP:

Thank you to everybody who visited Fr Calum during his last weeks in Raigmore Hospital, and to all who attended both the Mass in the Cathedral and his Funeral Mass on Eriskay. Thanks to all who prepared the liturgies for both Masses.......

Fr Calum attended both the beatification and the canonisation of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop, and with her feast approaching on Wednesday August 8th I suggest we have Mass that evening in St John’s Caol, to honour the saint and to pray for Fr Calum’s eternal rest. Some of the clergy from that area were away or not able to attend the Mass in Oban, so it will be an opportunity to remember him.


40th Anniversary of Ordination of Fr Donald Ewen Campbell:

We congratulate Fr Donald on recently reaching his 40th anniversary as a priest and thank him for the continued service he gives, both at Lochailort and in the supplies he undertakes.


New Archbishop of Glasgow:

I am sure we have all heard of Bishop Philip Tartalgia’s appointment as the new Archbishop of Glasgow. We wish him every blessing, and assure him of our prayers in his new diocese. Bishop Philip will be installed as Archbishop on Saturday 8th September, the Feast of Our Lady’s Birthday.


We wish Archbishop Conti well in his retirement and remember his great contribution as Bishop, both in Glasgow and Aberdeen, and to the whole Church in Scotland through his varied responsibilities over the years on the commissions of the Bishops’ Conference. His contribution to Ecumenism especially has been outstanding and constant throughout  his episcopal ministry.


Mass/Pilgrimage to Canna:

I am travelling to Canna next Wednesday, August 1st, to celebrate Mass there. Fr Joe Calleja suggests that we make it a day pilgrimage to the island and invites the faithful to join us in the same way as a good number did earlier in the year on Eigg. The Calmac ferry leaves Mallaig at 10.15am and will be back at 6pm. We will be on Canna for two hours.


Departure of Fr Francis Ferriggi:

Fr Francis will be leaving Ballachulish Parish on Tuesday August 21st and will be returning to Australia to work in the Diocese of Townsville in Queensland . We thank Fr Francis for the time he spent with us and his much appreciated ministry in Ballachulish and Kinlochleven – we wish him a safe journey and every blessing for the future. I will announce arrangements for the future care of the parish in due course.


Holidays of Obligation:

With another Holiday of Obligation coming up on 15th August, The Solemnity of the Assumption of Our Lady, could I ask all parish priests to advertise well when the Masses will be celebrated that day, especially if there are changes to the times given in the Directory and the leaflet Mass Times in the Highlands and Islands. I understand also that we need to update some of the times given on the Diocesan website.

Also I think the practice of taking up an offertory collection at Masses on Holidays of Obligation should be continued – we are providing a full service of Masses round the parishes on these special days and it is proper for the faithful to contribute as on Sundays.


Diocesan Special Collections:

Thank you the good efforts made to promote the Collection for the Bishop’s Fund and the use of the new gift-aid envelopes. The collections in August and September, for the Retired Priests and Ecclesiastical Students, merit the same promotion.


Marriage and Family Sunday – 26th August:

The Bishops’ Conference has chosen Sunday 26th August as a Day of Prayer and Reflection on Marriage and the Family. This Sunday was chosen because we read that day St Paul’s words in Ephesians on the love of husband and wife in marriage as an image of Christ’s love for the Church. A pastoral letter will be sent out for that Sunday and there will be a special collection to help fund the Church’s contribution towards the campaign Scotland for Marriage.

As I write this I hear that the Scottish Government is to go ahead with the proposed legislation on allowing same-sex marriage, so the campaign in defence of the traditional understanding of marriage will continue. In that regard I would like to make a couple of points. Firstly a couple threatened to sue one of our priests recently because he said they were not free to marry in the Catholic Church – whatever the government says similar threats could come our way in the future. Same-sex marriage has already been introduced in Spain and there have been reports of parents and teachers disagreeing on what their children should be taught in schools, and the pressure is very much on parents to comply with what the State mandates. The questions in regard to freedom of religion, rather than freedom of worship, are real and the debate, however heated, will continue.


Ordination of Rev Stanley Bennie:

An invitation card is enclosed to the Rev Stanley Bennie’s ordination as a priest of the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham on Tuesday September 11th at 12 noon in St Columba’s Cathedral, Oban. Please let your people know of the ordination and invite them to come.


Clergy Assembly – Tuesday 11th to Thursday 13th September:

The Annual Assembly of the Clergy will begin at 4pm on Tuesday 11th September and finish at lunch-time on Thursday. As well as reports and reflection on our own Diocesan activity we will have a guest speaker – Mgr Eamonn Martin, the Administrator of the Diocese of Derry. Mgr Eamonn will offer input on the priesthood through the years since Vatican II, and look ahead also to the opportunities offered by the forth-coming Year of Faith. Those who have heard him speak have found his contributions very valuable and for that reason suggested that he should be invited to share his insights with us, and to listen to our own. I would hope that most of the clergy will endeavour to come for these couple of days together.


Annual Investiture Ceremony of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre – 14th to 17th September:

The Scottish Lieutenancy of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem will hold their Annual Investiture Gathering this year in Oban on the weekend of 14th to 17th September – the weekend includes Vigil Service in the Cathedral on Friday at 6pm, Investiture Ceremony on Saturday at 1pm, Thanksgiving Mass on Sunday at 10.30am, and Pilgrimage to Iona on Monday.

Cardinal O’Brien will be with us through the weekend, and I have accepted the invitation to become a member of the Order. The services in the Cathedral are open to all who wish to be present.


“Come and See” Day for Catechists – 22nd September at Lochyside School, Fort William:

As a follow up to the launch of “This is Our Faith” and our concern in the Diocese that its use extend into catechesis in the parishes we have arranged a Day for Catechists, those involved in Children’s Liturgy, Parents, and Teachers to come and reflect on their role as catechists and what “This is Our Faith” has to offer them. Patricia Carroll, the Episcopal Delegate for Pastoral Resources in the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh, has kindly agreed to come and lead this day – Patricia has already produced a course for catechists based on the eight Strands of Faith in “This is Our Faith”, and she would be prepared to help us offer this course on four Saturdays throughout the coming school year.

What have you to do? Basically to get those in your parishes involved in catechetical work and in teaching, particularly with young people but not exclusively, to come to this day, which will run from 10.30 to 5pm. During the day they will reflect on their own catechetical role, the possibilities offered in the course on the Strands of Faith, and some planning for the future. It will be a full day but I would hope you will encourage participation and that it will be worthwhile for those who come.

There is a paper enclosed for distribution in the parishes to encourage participation.


“Year of Faith” – 11th October 2012 – 24th November 2013:

The catechetical course on “This is Our Faith” can certainly be part of the Diocesan programme for the “Year of Faith” Indeed I had suggested at the Priest’ Council Meeting that we would inaugurate the “Year of Faith” in the Diocese that evening at the Vigil Mass in Fort William. I will not be able to do that now, so I suggest that we have the inaugural Mass in the Cathedral on the Opening Day of the Year of Faith, Thursday 11th October, the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. We will start the “Year of Faith” therefore with the Church throughout the world and reflect on the teachings of the Council as Pope Benedict has so strongly encouraged us to do.



As in previous years I will come round the parishes towards the end of November into the first two weeks of December to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation. The proposed schedule will be as follows:

Monday 19th to Friday 23rd  November – St. Andrew’s Deanery

Monday 26th to Friday 30th November – St. Margaret’s Deanery

Friday 7th to Tuesday 11th December – St. Michael’s Deanery

If anyone prefers a specific date within those offered please let me know soon.

It is important to start the preparation as soon as possible after the start of the school term so that the children are ready for the time I wish to come. If more time is needed though, I will be happy to come later.

I suggest that in this “Year of Faith” we do look at teaching the children the Apostles’ Creed and I will focus on the renewal of the baptismal promises during the celebration of the sacrament.  


Thank you for reading through all of this. I hope that I have covered most relevant matters at present.  


With my prayers and good wishes,


Yours in the Lord,



Rt Rev Joseph Toal

Bishop of Argyll and the Isles

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