BY James Farrell | March 23 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

6-FR-TOAL

Fr Toal completes a 30-year journey to the priesthood

After putting a 31-year pause on the priesthood, Fr Vincent Toal said he had a ‘sense of fulfilment’ after his ordination to the priesthood on March 19

Four bishops and 80 priests gathered in a packed St Andrews Cathedral on Monday, the feast of St Joseph, for the ordination of Fr Toal to Glasgow Archdiocese.

Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow, the main celebrant, was joined by Archbishop Emeritus Mario Conti, Bishop Brian McGee of Argyll and the Isles—the diocese of Fr Toal’s birth—and Bishop Joseph Toal of Motherwell, Fr Toal’s brother.

“The whole night was fantastic. I couldn’t sleep after it—it was buzzing about my head all night,” Fr Toal said. “There’s a sense of fulfilment but I’m conscious that it is also life-changing. I have to be available at all times to witness to Christ and His message,” he added.

31 years ago, in the run up to his ordination and as he neared the end of his diaconate year, Fr Toal decided to take some time out from his studies at the Pontifical Scots College in Rome.

His time out finally ended last year, following a career in Catholic ­journalism, when he decided to take up his call to the priesthood once again.

During his homily at the ordination Mass, Archbishop Tartaglia joked that Fr Toal must have ‘held the world record for the longest transitory diaconate.’

This light-heartedness brought some ease to what was a momentous occasion for Fr Toal, who sat with a smile on his face during the homily.

Included in the congregation was Fr Toal’s 90-year-old mother. “It was great at 90 years old she could see this day,” Fr Toal said. “Looking back to when I said I wasn’t going on with my formation, it was a time of disappointment for her.

“I had spent so long in formation and it was hard for her to understand why I wasn’t going on. She had to be patient.”

Fr Toal said it was a ‘special moment’ for him to give his mother his first blessing as a priest.

Fr Toal’s extended family travelled from Roybridge to be at the Mass. As part of the ordination rite, Bishop Toal vested his younger brother as a priest. “I was relieved that he put it on the right way,” said the younger Fr Toal with a smile.

“The consecration was the moment it hit home, saying those words of consecration with my brother priests around me. It was a moment of great joy,” he added. “I would also say the encouragement, support and goodwill of so many people has been wonderful. The expressions of joy at seeing someone ordained is confirming and underlines how much people appreciate the ministry of the priest.”

Fr Vincent Toal is currently serving in St Joseph’s Church, Tollcross.

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