BY Ryan McDougall | April 5 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Waterside man, 90, receives letters from two popes praising his book on local parish history

Two Popes have thanked a Scottish family who sent them copies of a book they wrote detailing the history of their church.

At the end of last year, James ‘Jimmy’ Rooney, his son, Mark, and brother, Francis, co-wrote a book about their church, St Francis Xavier’s, Waterside, A History of the Catholic Church in the Doon Valley.

The trio decided to send copies of the book to Pope Francis and Pope Benedict XVI.

The book was written in response to parish priest Fr David Borland’s suggestion that Jimmy and Francis, the two eldest parishioners of St Francis Xavier’s, start looking into parish history.

Jimmy’s son Mark said: “My dad just turned 90 and wasn’t keeping so good up until the book project started about two years ago. My dad then asked me if I could help him pull it together.

“It gives a history of the church from the very early days. In the 1940s, a priest wrote a book about it, and a parishioner wrote another in the 1960s, so there are a lot of stories from the church’s past.”


Bishop Emeritus of Galloway

Jimmy added: “The book was not intended to be a particularly original or academic work. It relies heavily on information from previous booklets about the church and includes recollections from parishioners, former priests and Bishop Emeritus Maurice Taylor.”

After a few weeks of waiting, Vatican assessor for general affairs, Mgr Paolo Borgia, issued a response from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in February, confirming he had received his copy of the book.

In March, the three men received another letter from Mgr Borgia stating Pope Francis had received his copy.


Papal response

The letter to Mark on behalf of Pope Francis reads: “His Holiness Pope Francis thanks you for your letter and the gift of the book, A History of the Catholic Church in the Doon Valley: 1850-2018.

“He very much appreciates your thoughtfulness in sharing the work of your father and uncle with him.”

The letter from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI adds: “He thanks you for sharing your work with him. His Holiness will remember your father in his prayers.”

The three were elated to have received a response from both the current and former popes.

Mark said: “My dad’s particularly happy with it—he’s not been feeling too great and this has really cheered him up!” The book was published with help from the local SSVP branch.

All physical copies of the book have been sold, but to receive a digital copy, email

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