The third priest’s funeral in the Archdiocese of Glasgow in October was that of Fr. John Ceresoli SX, the parish priest of St. Alphonsus, who was buried from his parish on 31 October. The funeral Mass was concelebrated by Archbishop Conti, with Bishop Devine of Motherwell, Very Rev. John Convery (Provincial Superior of the Xaverian Fathers), priests from the Dioceses of Glasgow and Motherwell, Fr. John’s nephew Fr. Luca Ceresoli from Bergamo, Fr. John Convery (the Provincial Superior of the Xaverians) and many of Fr. Ceresoli’s fellow Xaverians. The church was full to overflowing with parishioners, members and associates of the wider Xaverian family and representatives of other churches. Members of Fr. John’s family has also travelled from Italy for the funeral, together with the Vice-Mayor of his home town of Filago.
The service began with the singing of “Be Still, for the Presence of the Lord” as the clergy processed past Fr. John’s coffin to the sanctuary. The second reading was given in Italian by a member of Fr. John’s family.
In his homily, Fr. Convery recalled that it was just a week since the canonisation of the founder of the Xaverians, St. Guido Conforti on Mission Sunday. The purpose of the Church is Mission and St. Guido’s vision for his congregation had been to spread the message of the love, peace, and justice of Christ. As the Gospel reading showed, Jesus viewed his single most powerful and liberating act to lie before him in Jerusalem when like the grain of wheat, he would die in self-giving. Fr. John’s conviction of this mission for the disciples of Christ led him round the world from Italy to Sierra Leone to London to Glasgow – his passion was mission, to give himself for others, and the effects were surely seen in the numbers present in the church for his funeral. Fr. Convery called on those present to be a “resurrection people” and push forward to become a single family.
The homily was followed by a more personal reflection of Fr. John given in Italian by his nephew, Fr. Luca.
After Communion, the Xaverian music group sang in Krio (the language brought to Sierra Leone by freed American slaves) to the accompaniment of drum and guitar, bringing back memories of Fr. John’s long service in that country. Before the Final Commendation, Fr. John’s brother Antonio thanked the Archbishop, priests and the community of St. Alphonsus, the Vice-Mayor of Filago and the Xaverian family for all their help and support. He recalled that his brother was always rushing around. When asked why he did what he did, he replied “I have chosen the life I have chosen”.
At the end of the Mass, tributes were read out, from among the many received, from the Provincial Superior of the Xaverians in Sierra Leone, recalling his courageous service to his people during the conflict in that country, and from the Mayor of Filago, who remembered his advice to welcome everyone with open arms and a smile. As Fr. John’s funeral cortege left for the cemetery, members of the congregation lined the pavements to bid him farewell