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Faith and football combine for Celtic FC anniversary Mass

A Mass will be held to commemorate the 132nd anniversary of the formation of Celtic FC at St Mary’s in the Calton on November 11 — by Peter Diamond and Colette Cooper

The parish of St Mary’s is where Celtic was formed, following a meeting in the church hall on November 6, 1887. Every year since the 125th anniversary, the club has enjoyed a celebration Mass in the church to mark the anniversary.

Supporters of all faiths are being encouraged to attend the event.

The charitable arm of the club will also host its annual ‘Brother Walfrid Community Lunch’ for the homeless and refugee communities on Wednesday November 6 at Celtic Park. A hot two-course meal and a tour of the stadium will be provided for around 300 guests.



Canon Tom White, parish priest of St Mary’s, said: “It’s great that what started as a celebration of 125 years of the football club has now become an annual event in St Mary’s, where we as the Celtic Family not only know our history but celebrate it at the place of our birth.

“Obviously with the club being in Rome on the day of the actual anniversary, we thought the numbers might be down significantly, so we decided to have the Mass on Monday November 11.

He added that the Mass has continued since the 125th anniversary in 2012, ‘the day before Celtic beat Barcelona in the Champions League,’ and that there is ‘perhaps an element of superstition about those who have annually continued to organise it.’

“Historically, the connections between the club and the Church were only rekindled on big occasions or significant anniversaries and often they can be sad occasions.”


Stevie Chalmers

He gave the example of Lisbon Lion Stevie Chalmers’ funeral, which took place in the church in May.

“However, the anniversary Mass is an initiative on both parts to celebrate the connections between Celtic and the Catholic Faith, particularly St Mary’s Church here in the Calton where the club was formed. We are continuing to remember our founding fathers and the community from which we hailed.

“We’re also celebrating the type of people and club that Celtic aspires to be today.”

He added that the purpose of the Mass is to ‘honour the founding fathers,’ and to ‘remember the dead of the club and its supporters.’


Faith and football

He also commented that it is ‘a display of how Faith and football isn’t a bad combination at all, that the two entwined can be a force for good in the world.’

He added that, since the first annual Mass in 2012, it has had ‘varying degrees’ of success and he is hopeful of a big turnout this Monday. “It’s a prayerful Mass, reminiscent of our origins,” he said.

Tony Hamilton, chief executive of Celtic FC Foundation, said: “The community lunch at Celtic Park on the anniversary of the club is hugely important for us, as is the one we host around Brother Walfrid’s anniversary in April each year.

“November 6 is also the day we launch our Annual Christmas Appeal so all-in-all, it’s an important week.

“Celtic is a very special football club with a fanbase that has a strong social conscience.

“We are very grateful for the support we get for the Celtic FC Foundation that allows us to do things such as this. I am very much looking forward to seeing everyone at the lunch, at the Mass and throughout this year’s appeal.”


Fitting commemoration

Celtic chief executive Peter Lawwell also commented: “I am sure the anniversary Mass at St Mary’s on November 11 will once again be a fitting commemoration to Brother Walfrid and our great club.

“From those early days of our formation, Celtic has always had charity at its core.

“It has defined our club throughout the last 130 years and it is important that our supporters are given the opportunity to share in this wonderful occasion.

“Once again, charity will play an important role as we look forward to welcoming our guests to Celtic Park for the Brother Walfrid Community Lunch on the day of the anniversary.”

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