Pastoral Letter For the 5th Sunday of Lent

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Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Easter is almost here. We might picture ‘Easter’ as a person, as someone coming to visit us. She comes with her cortege of feasts: Palm Sunday and Holy Week, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and especially the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday – which then open out into the 50 days of Eastertide. Through signs and symbols, words and ceremonies, she brings us the Cross and Resurrection of Christ. She takes us to the heart of our faith. I encourage you to go out and meet her, not to miss the opportunity even if it disturbs usual routines or cuts across appealing alternatives. Let us thirst for the living God! Easter offers us wisdom and grace, the forgiveness of sins and peace with God. It is a chance to recover good priorities and tap into new energies. It is a time for the dry tree we are to experience a springtime and become green and fruitful again, and there is the goodness of coming together, of seeing our brothers and sisters in Christ. Continue reading

Mid Lent Reflection

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Bishop Hugh Gilbert of the RC Diocese of Aberdeen, Scotland offers his mid-lent reflection where he presents Abraham as a key figure to help us prepare for Easter.

Homily for Funeral Mass of Mgr Robert MacDonald

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In his latter years, Mgr Robert produced – with Anne Oliver’s help – a pleasing booklet, Priests I have Known. Well, he is a priest all of us here have known and many more than us and over no small stretch of time. He was prepared for priesthood at Blairs and then at St. Sulpice, which left him a permanent French connection. Ordained in Dufftown by Bishop Walsh on the feast of Ss Peter and Paul, 29 June 1952, just under the canonical age of 24. “Mummy – a child is supposed to have said returning from a Mass he celebrated in those early days – one of the altar servers said the Mass today” – so young did he look. Yes, a priest people have known: at St Peter’s in the Castlegate, Kirkwall (not his favourite appointment), Dornie, Elgin for so many years, Inverness, and finally in retirement at Fochabers. “You have described the perimeters of the diocese”, as Archbishop Mario expressed it with characteristic eloquence. And always that memorable voice, the gentle availability, the friendliness and helpfulness towards his fellow-priests, his generous loyalty to this Abbey of which he was an oblate, the acceptance of diocesan tasks (he was Treasurer for 23 years). “The pastoral dedication and gentle courtesy”, as Bishop Peter well expressed it. The fund of stories, often concluded with “Oh, dearie me!” A simplicity which made him an easy companion on episcopal holidays. A passion for lemons which did strange things to his teeth. Like his brother, a priest wholly of this diocese, embodying its uniqueness. It’s touching he was born and baptized (three times!) and confirmed and made his first Holy Communion in Dufftown, was ordained in Dufftown and died in Dufftown and will be buried there this afternoon – Dufftown, the town built on Seven Stills, Upper Banffshire, the Moravian heartlands, and also, thanks to Mortlach, the historical cradle of our current diocese. There was not a hint of the Central Belt in him, certainly. As so often, the last years were not easy, and much gratitude is due to all who helped a sometimes recalcitrant Robert through them, not least his sister Sr Monica – described to me as “the only person he would listen to”! Continue reading

Homily for the 3rd Sunday of Lent

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Today Jesus meets the Samaritan woman by Jacob’s well.

St Augustine captures the energy of the story. “A woman came. She is a symbol of the Church not yet justified, but about to be justified. Justification follows from the conversation. She came in ignorance, she found Christ, and he enters into conversation with her. Let us see what it is about. Let us see why a Samaritan woman came to draw water…” The Samaritans – who still exist by the way, few in number, in Nablus and Tel Aviv – were, for the Jews, heretics or schismatics. They believed in the same God, they accepted the Law of Moses, but they had nothing to do with the Temple in Jerusalem. They had their own Temple on Mount Gerizim. Relations between Jews and Samaritans then were not unlike those between Israelis and Palestinians now. There were often hostile incidents. So this is an abnormal meeting. ‘You are a Jew, says the woman, and you ask me a Samaritan for a drink?’ Continue reading

Jubilarian Mass Marks 160 Years of Service

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A special Mass was organised and took place at noon on Monday 11th March at Saint Mary’s Cathedral to celebrate the anniversaries of the ordination of three members of our presbyterate, and one deacon. Bishop Emeritus Peter Moran – 60 years, Canon Peter Barry – 50 years, Fr. Derick McCulloch – 25 years, Deacon John Woodside – 25 years. Continue reading

Homily for the Three Cathedrals Service

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“Jesus went on his way …journeying to Jerusalem.” Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem is the backbone, the spinal cord of the Gospel of Luke. He turns his face towards Jerusalem. He goes there consciously and deliberately, knowing he must fulfil his destiny there. He goes, we learn from the Gospel of John, to be lifted up and gazed upon. He goes there “to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad” (Jn 11:52). Jerusalem means “the vision of peace”. Continue reading

Two Inverness Churchgoers Receive Special Papal Awards from Pope Francis

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The Parish of St. Columba’s R.C. Church at Culloden celebrated the awarding of two Benemerenti papal awards from Pope Francis to two extremely dedicated and devoted parishioners.

Although the new church building at Tower Road, Culloden only celebrated its 10th anniversary on 1st November 2018, the growing congregation had been gathering for Sunday Mass services for over 30 years prior to that in the nearby gym hall at Duncan Forbes Primary School. 
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Bishop Hugh on Recent Beatifications

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Bishop Hugh highlights the importance of reflection on the extraordinary people that have been beatified recently in Algeria.

Feast of the Holy Family

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Today we keep the feast of the Holy Family. And today’s Gospel recounts a dramatic episode in that family’s life: the losing and finding of the 12 year old Jesus. ‘My child why have you done this to us?’ This must have burst out of Mary. ‘See how worried your father and I have been…’ ‘Worried’ would be better rendered ‘greatly distressed’ or ‘anguished’. ‘We’ve lived a nightmare these last days.’ Then we can think back to Mary’s pregnancy and the perplexity (at least) that Joseph must have endured at that time. Then again, the drama around the census, the journey to Bethlehem, no room at the inn and the rest. Then the flight into Egypt, when all three became refugees and had to establish themselves in a foreign country. Continue reading