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Cardinal names four monsignors

As part of St Andrew’s Feast Day celebrations last month, CARDINAL KEITH O’BRIEN announced that four priests in St Andrews and Edinburgh had been elevated to monsignors of the archdiocese

Cardinal Keith O’Brien elevated four priests from St Andrews and Edinburgh Archdiocese to be monsignors of the archdiocese during celebrations for the Feast Day of St Andrew at St Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh.

“I take the opportunity on the Feast of the Patron Saint of Scotland, St Andrew, of thanking all my brother priests for the way in which they have and are serving in our archdiocese,” Cardinal O’Brien said. “I have singled out four priests for particular thanks and have asked Pope Benedict XVI to name them as ‘Chaplains of His Holiness’, with the title of monsignor. Our Holy Father has readily agreed.”

The cardinal added that: “When he was on his visit to the United Kingdom, Pope Benedict XVI addressed the Bishops of England, Scotland and Wales at Oscott College in England. Among other things he stated to the bishops and priests: “‘If we are to be effective Christian leaders, we must live lives of the utmost integrity, humility and holiness.  As Blessed John Henry Newman once wrote—Oh that God would grant the clergy to feel their weakness as sinful men, and the people to sympathise with them and love them and pray for their increase in all good gifts of grace.’

“I pray that among the graces of this visit will be a renewed dedication on the part of Christian leaders to the prophetic vocation they have received, and a new appreciation on the part of the people for the great gift of the ordained ministry. Prayer for vocations will then arise spontaneously.”

These four priests whom the cardinal made canons on November 30 are Canon James Rae, Canon Brian Halloran, Fr Francis Kerr and Fr Gerry Hand. He went on to pay each of them tribute.

1: Canon James Rae, parish priest of St John the Evangelist, Portobello

Canon Rae has served Cardinal O’Brien and his predecessor in a variety of ways—not only in his outstanding parish apostolate, but also on many committees in the archdiocese during his long years in the priesthood. His parish and the schools working in collaboration with him in his parish area have an outstanding bond with the Diocese of Moshi in Tanzania, which the cardinal himself has had the privilege of visiting.

A mark of his regard by his brother priests is the fact that Canon Rae was elected as Provost of the Metropolitan Cathedral Chapter, a role which he still holds, as well as being parish priest, up to this present time when he is now 84 years of age.

2: Canon Brian Halloran, retired parish priest of St James Parish, St Andrews

Canon Halloran has served the diocese particularly in parishes in Fife, but also and especially in the parish of St James in St Andrews, having also responsibility for the parishes of Christ the King, Pittenweem and Most Holy Trinity, Crail. He has shown himself to be a brilliant academic and while chaplain to the Catholic students at St Andrews University and parish priest of three parishes he has also undertaken further studies at St Andrews University, adding to his initial degree of bachelor of divinity, the degree of master of philosophy and then a doctorate in philosophy. His apostolate in the university over those years was recognised in the summer of 2010 when he was awarded the very prestigious annual ‘Medal of the University’ at a graduation ceremony.

The honour on Canon Brian is being conferred ‘in absentia’ as he is now undertaking a valued apostolate for a sabbatical year in the Diocese of Yendi in Ghana, recognised as being one of the poorest in that country.

3: Fr Francis Kerr, parish priest of St Peter’s, Edinburgh and St Columba’s, Edinburgh

Fr Kerr has served in a variety of parochial appointments while also rendering outstanding work as Secretary of the archdiocese during my predecessor’s episcopate and then, as now, working with regard to both fabric and planning and finance in the archdiocese.

His pastoral zeal has never slackened and he was only too willing to assume responsibility also for the parish of St Columba’s, while remaining as parish priest of St Peter’s and continuing to serve his people and his school, along with many hospital and retirement home responsibilities.

4: Fr Gerry Hand, Parish Priest of St Paul’s, Glenrothes, St Mary’s, Leslie and Falkland Palace

As well as his parochial responsibilities, following on his further studies, Fr Hand became a professor at St Andrew’s College, Drygrange and then at Gillis College, Edinburgh until the closure of the college.

He has assumed responsibility for large parishes, initially in St Patrick’s, Kilsyth and then in Glenrothes and Leslie, along with Falkland Palace.  After Falkland Palace, he combined his work in parishes with his valued apostolate as Vicar Episcopal for Justice and Peace, a difficult task in which he built up a strong group of like-minded people.

He has exerted a tremendous influence in the archdiocese with regard to pastoral planning and ensuring that in his own parishes, he applies the principles that he would expect others to apply in their own parishes. He is academically very able, is of sound spirituality and challenges all in our archdiocese by many of the things that he says and does.

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