BY Ian Dunn | June 26 2015 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Our nation is now a ‘mission country’

Scotland’s bishops invite priests and nuns from the developing world to help swell ranks

Scotland’s bishops say the nation is now a ‘mission country’ whose Church invites the help of clergy and religious from the developing world.

Bishop William Nolan of Galloway said in a letter last week to his diocese that priests from an Indian missionary order would soon be working in the diocese. Meanwhile, Bishop Stephen Robson of Dunkeld told the SCO that he had already arranged for an order of Indian nuns to come to Dundee, to run the St Joseph’s Wellburn Care Home, and people had to accept Scotland today is ‘now a mission country.’

All eight of Scotland’s dioceses are currently using recruitment as well as vocation programmes to cope with the current and projected decline in clergy numbers through retirement.

Bishop Nolan said the priests coming from India to Galloway were ‘not to plug gaps or to maintain the current system,’ however.

“They are not coming to increase the variety of Mass times or to help us avoid travelling a few miles further in order to attend Mass,” he said. “They are a missionary order and they are coming because they see Scotland as mission territory. They see a country where the Faith is tired and the Faithful lack the enthusiastic joy of the first Christians—an enthusiasm and joy that we see in the Church in many Third World countries, where the Faith is young and alive. They come because they want to bring God to a country where so many live without God and not know him.”

Bishop Nolan, who was installed as Bishop of Galloway in February, said he knew it was not ‘just the number of clergy which is in decline but also the number of laity attending Mass’ and ‘there is no doubt that for Catholics in Galloway Diocese and throughout Scotland our enthusiasm for passing on the Faith, particularly to those outside the Church, has been dented, because we have been disheartened by the scandals and criticism and negativity of recent years.’

“The Gospel is still good news and meeting Jesus can transform the lives not just of individuals but also of the society in which we live,” he said.

He said he hoped that these new Indian priests would encourage the Faithful of Galloway to ‘be enthusiastic in living our faith so that others have the joy of meeting Jesus Christ through us.’

Bishop Robson said that sisters from Kerala in India would be running the Wellburn Care Home, which was maintained by the Little Sisters of the Poor but had been on the brink of closure due to ‘a shortage of vocations’ to their order.

“A Kerala order, nuns who are also nurses, will be running Wellburn,” the bishop told the SCO. “And we’ve also got sisters from Nigeria running the pastoral centre.”

He added that he expected more of this type of arrangement in the future. “There needs to be the realisation, with humility, that Scotland is now a mission country,” he said.

Archbishop Phillip Tartaglia of Glasgow said it was ‘very likely that we will continue to see priests from abroad working here in the years to come.’

A spokesman for Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews and Edinburgh told of the history of foreign clergy there, saying that it was important to remember ‘the universal Church by its very nature is missionary.’

The Scottish Church, historically helped by clergy and religious from Ireland, is now increasingly looking to the developing world for support, Bishop Robson concluded.

“The people who are coming here [from that part of the world] are the ones whose Faith and devotion will sustain us,” he said.




—This story ran in full in the June 26 edition print of the SCO, available in parishes.


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