BY Ian Dunn | July 14 2017 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

1-ARCHBISHOP-DELPINI

New Milan Archbishop is an honorary Greenockian

Bishop Mario Delpini trades the city of fashion for Greenock each summer

The Italian archbishop who has been appointed head of Europe’s largest diocese has a deep love for Scotland—after spending 10 summers in Paisley and Greenock.

Bishop Mario Delpini has been named successor to Cardinal Angelo Scola as Archbishop of Milan, a seat known for its prestige and administrative complexity, numbering more than 1,100 parishes and around five-and-a-half million faithful.

Seven archbishops of Milan have become pope, and Cardinal Scola received the second most votes at the last Papal Conclave.

Bishop Delpini has been vicar general of the archdiocese since 2012 and has a deep but little-known connection to Scotland. Bishop Delpini first visited Scotland in the early 2000s.

“A student at that Scots College had got in touch to say I know a priest here in Italy would like to come and do some pastoral work in Scotland over the summer,” said Mgr Charles Cavanagh, who at the time was parish priest at St Mary’s in Paisley. “And I was delighted to help out, because I thought it would help me get a break. It wasn’t until he showed up that I realised he was the rector of the seminary in Milan!”

Mgr Cavanagh said he and Bishop Delpini had become close friends, and that the bishop had hugely enjoyed his time in Scotland and had kept coming back to St Mary’s and then St Joseph’s in Greenock when the monsignor moved to that parish.

“He just really loved coming to Scotland, I think he’s come for about 10 summers now,” he said. “Especially Greenock—he would take long walks along the Esplanade, climb the Lyle hill, he just delighted in it.

“And he said the summer heat was bit oppressive in Italy so he could get a lot more done here. But St Joseph’s really took him to their heart and we’re all just absolutely delighted for him.”

Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow also knows the new archbishop well, and like Mgr Cavanagh travelled to Milan for his installation as a bishop in 2012.

“I first met ‘Don Mario’—as everyone calls him—through a mutual priest-friend when he was rector of the Archdiocesan Seminary of Milan which is situated at Venegono Inferiore (near Varese), where I have visited a number of times,” he said. “By the time I became Bishop of Paisley and then Archbishop of Glasgow, he was in the habit of doing summer supplies in St Joseph’s, Greenock, and we would always make a point of seeing each other during his visits to Scotland and during my visits to my friend at the seminary in Venegono Inferiore.”

 

Archbishop Tartaglia said he was ‘so pleased’ that Bishop Delpini had received his new appointment.

“Everything they say about him is true,” he said. “He is a prayerful and wise and very dutiful priest. He lives a simple life in a modest and humble way. He is a very straightforward man who speaks the truth gently but clearly in an unvarnished way.

“An expert in patristic theology, he is a man of considerable theological learning, which he combines to great effect with a very generous pastoral commitment. He is deeply faithful to the Church and to his priestly vocation. I can only imagine that his priests will be delighted by his appointment.”

Humble and hardworking Fr John Bollan, the current parish priest at St Joseph’s, said that delight was definitely shared by Bishop Delpini’s friends in Scotland.

“He’s absolutely an honourary Greenockian,” he said. “He is universally spoken of as a happy, hard-working and, above all, humble man. It’s rare for a locum priest, never mind a bishop, to spend time visiting the sick and the housebound of the parish, but that is precisely what he did and delighted in doing when he was here.”

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