BY Ryan McDougall | August 30 2019 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

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High hopes to revive Faithful as relics of St Therese tour in Scotland begins

The relics of St Thérèse arrive in Scotland today and will tour each Catholic diocese over three weeks, with hopes the visit can rejuvenate the Church

The relics of St Thérèse can leave a lasting legacy and strengthen the Faith of Scotland’s Catholics, the priest at the relics’ first parish stop has said.

Fr William Bergin, parish priest of St Teresa’s Church in Newarthill was speaking as pupils of the nearby St Teresa’s Primary School prepared for arrival of the relics to Scotland on Thursday August 30.

Fr Bergin said he feels ‘delighted’ and ‘incredibly blessed’ to host the relics in his church on their first night in Scotland.

Fr Bergin formerly served in Sheffield and was in England when the relics visited south of the border in 2009.

Legacy

“I remember it very well. There’s a Carmelite convent down there and you couldn’t get anywhere near it [during the relics’ visit] as there were so many people there,” he said.

“The visit left the sense that there is something about St Thérèse of Lisieux. Pope Pius X said she was the greatest saint of modern times, and I think he was speaking tremendous sense. Some people have said to me, ‘what about St Teresa of Calcutta?’ and I’ve said, ‘who did she name herself after?’

“This little French nun, who died at 24, left such an indelible impression on history.”

Reigniting Faith

Fr Bergin also believes the relics’ visit can be a catalyst in bringing people back to the Church, strengthen the Faith of those practicing, and may even boost vocations in Scotland.

“We are going through a time in Western Europe where there is a steady decline of religion and I think [visit] can perhaps bring people back to the Sacraments and perhaps it will encourage other people to rediscover the vocations of the priesthood,” he said.

“Above all though, it’s to let people feel that somehow God is with them, their Faith is of value, that they’re in the presence of other wonderful people who also share that same Faith.”

Little acts of kindness

St Thérèse was born as Marie-Françoise-Thérèse Martin and entered convent aged 15. She died on September 30 1897.

In 1925, she was canonised by Pope Pius XI, 28 years after her death. She is the patroness of the missions and the sick.

Staff and pupils at St Teresa’s Primary School will today take part in a procession from Fr Bergin’s Church, as the relics head from the parish through the town to St Francis Xavier’s Church at the Grotto.

The ‘Little Way’

Headteacher Michelle O’Halleron said the school had been saying a novena to prepare for the saint’s visit, and that the pupils had been carrying out ‘little acts of kindness’ in the spirit of St Thérèse.

“All the wee prayers to her have made a difference to people, and it’s been a really unique experience for the children,” she said.

She added: “While I’m not sure the pupils fully understand it all, they are all really excited because she’s their patron saint, they know her story, and because it’s not happened for hundreds of years they feel special and really blessed.”

Encourage us

Ahead of the visit, St Teresa’s pupils John, Francesca and John told the SCO they were excited to see the whole community come together, and that they were looking forward to seeing the relics for the first time.

Bishop Joseph Toal of Motherwell said: “I hope the pilgrimage of the relics of St Thérèse will encourage us, through the inspiration and intercession of St Thérèse, to have confidence in God’s merciful love for each of us, and to share that love daily with all with whom we share our lives.

“In bringing St Thérèse’s relics to Scotland we will pray that we will be inspired by her to recognise and live to the full our vocation in the mission of the Church in our country as joyful witnesses of Jesus Our Lord.”

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