BY Peter Diamond | June 7 2019 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Bishop Devine remembered for defending Catholic values and boosting vocations

Bishop Joseph Devine remembered at funeral Mass for overseeing ‘an increase in vocations to the priesthood’

Bishop Joseph Devine was remembered for defending Catholic values and boosting vocations as his Funeral Mass was celebrated in Motherwell’s Our Lady of Good Aid Cathedral on June 3.

The Bishop Emeritus of Motherwell Diocese died on Thursday May 23 at the age of 81.


Successor’s respects

In his homily at the funeral Mass, Bishop Devine’s successor in Motherwell Diocese, Bishop Joseph Toal, paid respects to his 59 years of service to the priesthood and 30 years as Bishop of Motherwell.

Bishop Toal said: “It was worth mentioning that in the later years of his ministry as diocesan bishop there was an increase in vocations to the priesthood and a number of the men whom he accepted are to be ordained shortly.”

A number of young priests ordained by the bishop have paid tribute to him as a guiding figure who ‘was not afraid to speak the truth.’


Big character

Fr Bernard Mournian, assistant priest of St Columbkille’s Church in Rutherglen, said: “When I was a child he Confirmed me and just seemed to be a constant figure in the life of the Church.

“He was a neighbour of mine when he lived in Hamilton until about a year ago. I would often go visit him for a chat. He loved to reminisce about his time in Rome and the Second Vatican Council.

“After my ordination, in 2017, I would go and celebrate Mass with him in his house and that was a real privilege. Before I could even take my jacket off he’d make the Sign of the Cross.

“He would always give the homily and it was there that you could see he still had a very sharp mind, describing the location of the scriptures or telling you the translation of the words in Greek or Hebrew. He had a real wealth of knowledge.

“As time went on, the frailer he got and the less he would say. There was serenity about him.

“The day before he died I anointed him and he said that he knew he was on a journey back to the father. He was one of life’s big characters and he will be missed.”


Fatherly man

Fr Sean Wylie, assistant priest of Our Lady of Lourdes Church, East Kilbride, said: “He was a very fatherly man and always had our best intentions as seminarians.

“During my second year of seminary my father sadly passed away and Bishop Devine was an absolute gentleman during that time, providing spiritual and pastoral care.

“He made sure he was at the funeral Mass and visited my family, which was a great source of comfort to my family and me.

“I think his vocal defence of Catholic values and teaching had a great impact on us as seminarians and young people during a time when big issues were being tackled and aggressive secularism was beginning to grip society.”


A supportive bishop

Fr John Paul McShane, assistant priest at St Joseph’s Church, Blantyre said: “Bishop Devine was always very supportive. I think personally, me being from Carfin, the bishop was always making trips to Carfin and the connections from an early age there might have had an influence.

Fr McShane added: “During seminary he would asks about my studies, he’d give me encouragement, he was very approachable and nice.

“He was well-known and I think the fact he was not afraid to speak the truth and speak of values was probably his most influential trait. People follow leaders like that.”

The last priest to be ordained by Bishop Devine before he retired has said it was ‘a great honour.’


Faithful servant

Fr Liam O’Connor, parish priest of St Mary’s Church, Cleland, said: “I recall Bishop Devine visiting my school and parish as a child for Confirmation visits, both when I received the Sacrament and as an altar server.

“I have fond memories of accompanying him on the Ad Limina visit to Pope Benedict XVI in 2008. They had both been appointed bishops during the reign of St Paul VI, and Pope Benedict was very pleased to meet someone of the same vintage.

“I was the last priest to be ordained by Bishop Devine before his retirement, which was a great honour in retrospect, considering his 30-year ministry in the diocese where vocations remained well above average by present standards in the country.

“He ordained me a priest in 2011 in my home parish, St Barbara’s, Muirhead. Being the fourth ordained from the parish for Motherwell Diocese during his tenure, he remarked that if every parish in Scotland produced this number of priests there would be no shortage. Thankfully there will be another ordination in St Barbara’s this summer.

“I will remember Bishop Devine as a great man of the Church and for the Church. He remained faithful to Her perennial teachings throughout his ministry, and defended the truths of our holy Faith even when this was unpopular in the modern world. May the Lord whom he loved in life now say to him, ‘well done good and faithful servant.’

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