At St Mary’s Cathedral, Aberdeen on Monday 1st July at 6pm , a mass was celebrated to commemorate the retirement and long standing service to the Diocese of (in latter years) the P.A. to Bishop Hugh, Mrs Joyce Webster. But Joyce was much more than a PA as she wore many hats during her period of devoted service.
It turned out to be an evening of much joy and many surprises. Indeed, as Bishop Hugh stated in his homily:
” So, retirement dawns. It might have its surprises, but I remember a sermon on baptism. The preacher pointed out that water can take many forms: still or running, hot or cold, turning into ice or steam, but it’s always water. And so the moral is that the grace that begins to flow in our baptism is able to adapt itself to all the changes of our lives and carry us through. So I think the Vine, the Tree will stay by the flowing waters. It won’t shrivel or be blown over. It will survive the heat and “its leaves remain green”. It won’t mind the drought, “for it does not cease to bear fruit” (Jer 17:8). We’re watching this space, Joyce. Thank you – more than words can say. And may the joy of Christ always be in your heart.”
Before the service, Joyce reflected on her many roles and the various Bishops which have featured in her period of service, and the many people who were able to be present at the mass:
“I would like to thank Bishop Hugh, Bishop Peter and Archbishop Mario for the opportunity to work in the Diocese over the past twenty one and a half years.
I have worked firstly as Millennium Appeal Coordinator, followed by Diocesan Administration Coordinator and also as P.A. to Bishop Peter and then Bishop Hugh.
These have been very happy years, in which I have made many good friends, I will certainly miss the everyday involvement with the clergy, parishes, and agencies in the diocese and beyond, as well as the Civic and Ecumenical groups. It has been a privilege.
I must also mention my husband, Gordon, ‘My Support System’, his unfailing help has made so many events possible.
The memories are too numerous to list, but one which does come to mind often, is the sight of twelve Bishops, the eight Scottish Bishops and Archbishop Emeritus Mario, along with the Bishop of Oslo, the Bishop of Copenhagen and the Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, and other clergy of the diocese, all in red vestments, on the steps of St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, Orkney in 2017 in brilliant sunshine. This was following a Mass in the Cathedral and the culmination of a weekend pilgrimage to mark the 900th Anniversary of the Martyrdom of St Magnus.
Once the photographs had been taken, the bishops mingled, for quite some time, with the congregation and general public in one of the best PR exercises for the church that I have seen in the diocese.
However, I am also happy in the knowledge that the time is right for me to step down and begin a new chapter in my life, especially by spending more time with Gordon, our sons, daughter-in-law and grandchildren.
When asked “what will you do now?” my answer has been “We will continue to live by our motto, which came from the homily at our wedding – Today is the first day of the rest of your life” and “We will do what we want when we want.” God willing.”
Following the service, Joyce added:
“The whole evening was truly a series of surprises. Representatives from all corners of my life had been invited including:
- Civic- Depute Lord Provost Councillor Jennifer Stewart
- Aberdeen Churches Together
- Sisters of the Sacred Heart, who travelled from Dalkeith
- Queen’s Cross Former Pupil’s Association
- St Joseph’s Primary
- Northcote Lodge
Bishop Hugh along with Archbishop Mario, Bishop Peter and many priests from across the diocese con-celebrated a beautiful liturgy with the diocesan choir, who said they had to sign the official secrets act in the lead up to the Mass! When I thought that things couldn’t get any better, Bishop Hugh presented me with a Papal Award – Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, the highest award presented by the Pope. All in all, a big WOW, from which I have not yet come back down to earth.”
Bishop Hugh stated:
“Mrs Joyce Webster has been involved in the city and church life of Aberdeen for many years. Above all, she has been the “right-hand woman” of three successive Catholic bishops, working in the diocesan office. She feels that the time has come for her to retire. So, to celebrate her twenty years of service, friends and colleagues from many walks of life gathered for a Mass of thanksgiving at St Mary’s Cathedral on the evening of Tuesday 1 July. The Deputy Provost, Cllr. Jennifer Stewart, was present, as were representatives of the Scouts and Beavers, the Queens Cross Former Pupils, the Sisters of the Sacred Heart, the Catenians, and Aberdeen Churches Together. Twelve priests, three deacons and many parishioners joined the three bishops present. Bishop Hugh Gilbert highlighted Joyce’s sterling qualities and at the end of the Mass presented Mrs Webster with the highest papal award for lay people who have contributed outstandingly to the life of the Church: the Medal “For the Church and the Pope”. We all wish Joyce and her husband Gordon much happiness in the years ahead.”