St. Peter’s Partick, was crowded for the funeral of Br. Bede on 25 June, with many of his extensive family present from England, members of the Marist community, teachers and children from St. John’s High School, Dundee (where he had been Head Master for 26 years), colleagues from SCIAF and friends from across the Archdiocese. The principal concelebrant was Archbishop Conti and he was joined by Bishop Vincent Logan of Dunkeld, Mgr. Ken McCaffrey VG of Dunkeld, and priests from the Archdiocese.
As the congregation gathered, the St.Mungo Singers and Dr. Noel Donnelly provided reflective music, and perhaps many were recalling how Br. Bede had given the very moving eulogy at the funeral of his lifelong friend Br. Jerome in St. Peter’s only the previous year.
Bishop Logan spoke briefly at the beginning of the Mass about Br. Bede’s long connection with Dundee. He had been an enormous influence on education in the city, known for his commitment and dedication, and his conviction that education, rooted in the values of the Gospel, was a priceless gift- this was his legacy to the city.
Archbishop Conti in his homily reflected that we had come together in solidarity of love and hope, to pray for one who had gone ahead, seeking mercy for him in confidence, and thanking God for the example of Br. Bede’s life. The readings of the Mass were aptly chosen for Br. Bede, particularly the Gospel (Matthew 5:1-12) which could be described as Christ’s manifesto for the Christian life which Br. Bede had lived.
Before the Final Commendation, Br. Brendan spoke of Br. Bede’s life and work. He recalled how, in the 1970s, a postcard had arrived in the postal sorting office at Dundee, addressed simply to “St. Bede”. The fact that it was instantly known to be for Br. Bede confirmed two things about him – he was an institution in Dundee public life and he was known as a holy man. Indeed the pursuit of holiness was the hallmark of his life. One of a large family from Jarrow, he had entered the Juniorate, just before World War II started, with his childhood friend Br. Jerome and it was fitting that he would be buried beside him.
His first school had been Holy Rosary in Birmingham and then St. John’s High in Dundee. He was known for his complete dedication, his enthusiasm, honesty and in particular for his help for those from difficult backgrounds. Under his leadership, St. John’s had been known for its family atmosphere. For his services, he had been the first recipient of the Dunkeld Medal from Bishop Logan. After his retirement, he had his first chance to be a missionary but his health problems meant his return to Scotland. He moved to Glasgow where he volunteered with SCIAF for many years. He was a man of wide interests but first and foremost a Marist – a man “of strong mind and gentle heart”.