BY Ian Dunn | February 14 2014 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

1-BISHOP-ELECT-JOHN-KEENAN

University chaplain graduates to bishop

Boost for Church as Pope Francis names Glasgow University’s Fr John Keenan for Paisley Diocese

THE announcement that Pope Francis has appointed Glasgow priest Fr John Keenan as the next Bishop of Paisley has further boosted morale in the Scottish Church.

Bishop-Elect Keenan, chaplain at Glasgow University and parish priest at St Patrick’s, Anderston, said he was ‘nervous’ but ‘very uplifted’ at all the good wishes he has received, and thankful to all those in ‘Paisley and Glasgow’ who were praying for him.  He will be installed in a ceremony in St Mirin’s Cathedral, Paisley, on March 19, the feast of St Joseph, and, at 49, will become Scotland’s youngest bishop.

The bishop’s chair in Paisley Diocese has been vacant since September 2012, when Bishop Philip Tartaglia became Archbishop of Glasgow.

Bishop-Elect Keenan has been serving as chaplain at Glasgow University since 2000 and last year became the parish priest at St Patrick’s, Anderston, and vocations director of Glasgow Archdiocese. He said that while the appointment was an honour, he would leave Glasgow with a ‘heavy heart.’

“Everyone I speak to says Paisley is a wonderful diocese with good priests and people full of faith,” he said. “I am looking forward to being with my brother priests, many of whom I already know really well, and getting to know the people and the parishes of the diocese. I hope just to settle in and listen a lot.”

The Bishop-Elect said he believed ‘this is an exciting time in the Church under Pope Francis’ lively leadership and I hope to put as much of his vision into my own personal life and ministry as I can.’

Among the first to offer congratulations to the new bishop was his predecessor in Paisley. Archbishop Tartaglia of Glasgow said he ‘welcomed’ the appointment, although he anticipated ‘a huge headache in trying to replace’ Fr Keenan.

“But, in the Church, when one part of the body is made stronger, the whole body benefits,” Archbishop Tartaglia said. “So, in this case, Paisley’s delight is Glasgow’s joy, and I am certain that Fr Keenan will be a fine Bishop for Paisley. As a former Bishop of Paisley, I am very happy that the Diocese of Paisley now has a new bishop. It’s a great diocese and very supportive of its bishops. Bishop-Elect Keenan can expect a warm and heartfelt welcome throughout the diocese. I was very happy as Bishop of Paisley and I am sure he will be too.”

The archbishop also said that, as president of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, he was ‘delighted to welcome our new colleague to the Bishops’ Conference’ as ‘John is a very gifted priest, and we look forward with anticipation to his contribution as a bishop to the work of the conference.’

Commenting on the appointment, Paisley administrator Fr David Boyd said that ‘since Archbishop Tartaglia left for Glasgow we have been praying at many Masses in our diocese for a pastor who will please you by his holiness and to show us watchful care. I am certain that in Bishop-Elect Keenan, that prayer has been answered.’

“On behalf of Bishop Emeritus John Mone, the priests and deacons and lay Faithful of the Diocese of Paisley, I can assure Bishop-Elect John a very warm welcome and the assurance of our prayers and support,” he said.

The new bishop’s work at Glasgow Chaplaincy has been often praised within the Church as an example of how to create a lively, holy community of young Catholics, according to Gabriele Franchi de’ Cavalieri, president of the Glasgow University Catholic Association, who said Fr Keenan done a wonderful job there.

“His leadership has been a great example of service informed by charity and humility,” he said.

Mr Cavalieri said the chaplaincy would miss their chaplain, but his work had ensured the community would endure.

“The real the proof of his success is that his work is going to survive his departure because he wisely did not built everything on his own but he relied greatly on the lay (young) members of the chaplaincy community,” he added.

Further congratulations came from Lorraine Currie, head of international programmes at SCIAF who said the charity, an agency of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, was sure he would be a fantastic bishop.

“We will really miss Fr John as our local parish priest, he has been such a great support to SCIAF both practically and spiritually,” she said. “But we are thrilled that he will be the new Bishop of Paisley—he will bring a deep sense of pastoral care and a great way of communicating the Gospel message.

Joan Dillon director of the Academy of Sacred Music, said was wonderful news as the bishop elect, one of three founding Trustees of The Academy, had remarkable pastoral gifts.

—ian@sconews.co.uk

—This story ran in full in the February 14 edition print of the SCO, available in parishes.

PIC: PAUL McSHERRY

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