BY Amanda Connelly | July 6 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Call to honour priests who kept the Faith alive despite persecution

Bishop William Nolan of Galloway Diocese encouraged the faithful to ‘honour’ the priests and seminarians that faced persecution during the Reformation period, as a sunny summer’s day last week saw crowds gather together in the Braes of Glenlivet for the annual Scalan Mass

“Today we honour those who came to this seminary here in Scalan during those Penal days, when they were being persecuted, and we honour them for trying to keep that Faith alive,” the bishop said during the Mass, which was captured on video by Sancta Familia Media.

“But they wanted to do more than just keep the Faith alive; they were just kind of trying to keep it kindled so that one day, that Faith could burst into a flame again and be spread back in our country.

“It’s for us to appreciate the Good News that we have received, and to honour these people who studied here, and who worked here, and who lived their Faith here, by appreciating that we have that commission —all of us—to spread the joy of the Good News to others.

Bishop Nolan led those gathered there for the Mass which is celebrated each year at Scalan—once a secret seminary during the times of the Scottish Reformation, when Catholicism was outlawed.

A number of other clergy also concelebrated, including the last rector of Blairs College Mgr John McIntyre, and Fr Michael Briody, who is the president of the Scalan Association.

“It’s the place where young boys and young men were trained for the priesthood in the last part of the 1700s,” Fr Briody told Sancta Familia. “It was a place where this was done in secret as best that could be arranged, because in 1560 the Scottish Parliament made Catholicism illegal in all its aspects, and so everything had to be done secretly.”

Fr Briody also explained that the area in which Scalan is located is in the Gordon territory, with the Duke of Gordon being a Catholic and therefore giving some level of protection to those wanting to be Catholic and to study for the priesthood at Scalan.

It made for poignant scenes as two deacons also served on the altar, Deacons Emmet O’Dowd and Kevin Lawrie, highlighting the continuation of the Faith past those times of hardship, with more men answering God’s call to the priestly life.

The seminary was responsible for more than 60 men being ordained as priests, and a Mass is held yearly to mark the heritage of Scalan, remember those men that risked their lives to become priests in Scotland during Penal times, and serve as an inspiration for the future.

Next year, the Mass will be two weeks earlier than normal, on Trinity Sunday, to mark the 250th anniversary of the secret consecration of Bishop George Hay in the small chapel of the first floor at Scalan in 1769. He was key to encouraging the Faith to flourish through the ‘heather priests,’ out across Scotland from Scalan.

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