The St. Mungo Singers don’t believe in wasting time or missing opportunities. As the proposed date was close to Mgr. Gerry’s 75th birthday (yes, he is that age!), they decided to combine the Mass with a celebration of this milestone birthday and so invitations went out to friends and family to join them for the Mass and for a meal afterwards.
Mgr Gerry was joined for the Mass by Frs. Michael Hutson, Noel Colford, Andrew MacKenzie, Pat Osborne and Willie Slavin. Several others were unable to make the Mass as they had parish commitments but were able to join him for the festivities afterwards. We were also joined by some of the instrumentalists who play with us for services. The only thing missing from the celebrations was the St. Leo’s collection of vestments designed by Netta Ewing and embroidered by the Sacred Threads Embroiderers. These in fact were in the US at an exhibition of liturgical art. Their gain was our loss on this occasion.Inevitably the Mass was going to be a feast of music and singing. The choir requiem has always been an occasion to give thanks for the people who have been part of our lives rather than a time of grief. The combination with a birthday celebration ensured a joyful occasion.
It opened rather solemnly with the introit “Just as Jesus Died and Rose”. As the altar was incensed, the choir sang the plainsong Requiem Aeternam. The beautiful Byrd Kyrie followed. The psalm was David Harris’ setting of Psalm 83 “How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord God of Hosts”, a song of joy both for those who have gone to the Lord and for those of us who are still journeying. The gospel was beautifully proclaimed in song by Deacon Kevin Kelly.
Mgr. Gerry gave his usual succinct homily – “ we remember our friends with affection, delight and love”. After the singing of the Creed, the intercessions were read for the church, the world and in particular the work of SCIAF and justice & peace groups, for the choir and its work, for the deceased members and fr the families and friends. As the names of the deceased members were read out, four candles (one for each section) were brought to the altar.
A more joyful note was struck with the offertory music – Botor’s “Misericordias Domini” – a song of confident trust in the eternal mercy of the Lord. At Communion, there was Sean Bowman & Geoffrey Nobes’ lovely “I am the Vine” and, post-Communion, Noel Donnelly’s setting of Blessed John Henry “Newman’s prayer “May the Lord Protect Us”. The Mass ended with the classic Handel motet “Lord, I Trust Thee”.
After the Mass, it was a short walk across the road to the Tradeston Ex-Servicemen’s Club where a great buffet awaited as well as a surprise cake in the shape of a three-manual organ for Mgr. Gerry. The choir then presented him with a card and a cheque to mark his birthday. A lovely relaxed celebration followed.
AD MULTOS ANNOS, Mgr Gerry!