BY Ian Dunn | May 10 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Follow in St Columba’s footsteps

Bishop Toal praises saint’s evangelisation Mass for the Knights of St Columba in Iona

The example of St Columba is more relevant to Scottish Catholics now than ever before as Scotland has become a ‘more pagan society than that which we knew in our younger days.’

Bishop Joseph Toal of Argyll and the Isles made the statement while speaking during a Mass on Iona last Saturday for the Knights of St Columba (right).

It was one of many trips to Iona Bishop Toal will make this year as Scottish Catholics prepare to celebrate the 1450th anniversary of St Columba’s arrival on the island next month.

During the lay Catholic order’s special pilgrimage to the island the bishop said that all Catholics now have an ‘urgent mission’ to spread the Word of God.

“Many of those we know have abandoned the practice of the Christian faith and, despite the claims to the contrary, if they are not hearing the Word of God and opening their hearts in prayer, it is unlikely that they will carry within themselves much sense of the Lord’s grace and presence and the commitments that follow on from that,” he said. “We have an urgent mission then to be the Lord’s messengers, or ambassadors in St Paul’s terms, and to do what we can to make Him known through the practise of our Catholic Faith and the goodness of our lives.”

The bishop told the knights, more than 80 of whom had made the journey with their wives and families, that he hoped they would draw ‘some inspiration from coming to Iona today and praying in this holy place.’

“Thinking especially about the brave decision made by Columba to leave the place he knew and come to begin life afresh in fairly hostile conditions, where hard, shared work would be very much the order of the day, tt was very much a manly undertaking here, as no women were allowed on the island, and I sense there is that sense of manly commitment in the spirit of the Knights of St Columba and in the practical tasks you are prepared to take on,” he said.

The bishop said that St Columba’s dedication to the Lord was a source of constant inspiration but he should not be seen as a distant figure.

Tom Knight, a spokesman for the knights, who was on the pilgrimage, said the order was very grateful to Bishop Toal and all who joined them on the pilgrimage.

The Argyll and the Isles Diocesan celebration of the 1450th anniversary of St Columba’s arrival on Iona will take place on June 9/10.




—     St Andrew’s, Dumfries, Iona pilgrimage, in this week’s print edition

— This story ran in full in the May 10 print edition of the SCO


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