November 24 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Tributes paid to the late Fr Tom Welsh

Tributes have poured in from across Scotland and beyond as they pray for the repose of the soul of Fr Tom Welsh SX, who died earlier this week. - By Amanda Connelly and Ryan McDougall

Tributes have poured in from across Scotland and beyond as they pray for the repose of the soul of Fr Tom Welsh SX, who died earlier this week.

Fr Welsh (right)—a Xaverian Father who was the former national director of Missio Scotland for over five years and spent considerable time working as a missionary priest—is fondly remembered by many individuals across a number of different groups.

Born in Mossend on January 16, 1950, Fr Welsh was one of eight children of Pat and Elizabeth Welsh. He went on to attend both Holy Family Primary and Our Lady’s High School.

While working as a clerk at the post office and volunteering with the Wayside Club in Glasgow, he met Italian Xaverian priest Fr Emilio Paloschi, and it was through working together with him his vocation to the missionary priesthood and working with marginalised individuals matured.

Entering the Xaverians as a ‘late vocation,’ he made his first religious profession in Glasgow in 1972, before journeying to London to complete theology at the Missionary Institute London, gaining the STB MA.

Making his perpetual profession in September 1976, he was ordained a priest by Bishop Francis Thompson on June 25, 1977, at Our Lady of Good Aid Cathedral in Motherwell.

He spent a few years working in formation, before travelling to work for five years in Sierra Leone, then moving to Chicago for further studies.

There, he gained an MA in Psychotherapy at Loyola University, and worked with the ecumenical group Shalom Ministries among the poor and immigrants and in Native American groups.

He made his return to the UK in 1991, working with Catholic Caring Services and Church Action on Poverty in Preston.

Eight years later he moved back to Scotland, working with the Coatbridge community to begin Global Education and Justice and Peace initiatives, before being elected provincial and serving for eight years in the position.

He later went on to help create the Conforti Institute in Coatbridge and helping to start many different programmes.

“When the Xaverian College was no longer fit for our purposes, Tom was at the forefront of creating the Conforti Institute and together with the other Xaverians and dedicated lay people began the many programmes now on offer of interfaith/interreligious dialogue, school chaplaincy, youth ministry, global learning, missionary discipleship and missional activism,” Hugh Foy of the Conforti Institute said.

“He was director of Missio Scotland for five years and served on many boards including VMM and the Bishop’s Committee for Interreligious Dialogue.

“He was present at the general chapter in Italy during August this year, but upon his return his ongoing struggle with health continued. Tom was admitted to St Andrew’s Hospice and died peacefully on the feast of St Margaret of Scotland, aged 67.

“May his dedication, vision and good deeds go before him and may he enjoy the rewards of his labours.”

Fr Vincent Lockhart, acting national director of Missio Scotland, also paid tribute to Fr Welsh on behalf of the charity.

“Tom served as the national director of Missio Scotland for over five years and brought his valuable experience as a missionary to his work,” he said. “He created a bond with the Vatican and the Church in many parts of the world where he is fondly remembered.

“On behalf of the staff at Missio Scotland I wish to offer our sympathy and prayers to Tom’s family and the Xaverian community.”

Mass of Christian burial took place in Holy Family Mossend on Friday November 24 at 11.30am.

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