The celebration of the conclusion of the 4th anniversary of St. John Ogilvie’s martyrdom was fittingly marked by an ecumenical evening service at St. Aloysius Church, Garnethill, on the Vigil of his feast day. Archbishop Tartaglia and the Jesuit community were joined by Archbishop Emeritus Conti, Very Rev Tom Pollock, Moderator of the Glasgow Presbytery, Rev Lynsey Biddle of Anderston Kelvingrove Church and Rev Russell Jones, chaplain to Gartnavel and Beatson hospitals. This special celebration at the end of a year of celebrations was to be marked by the dedication of a beautiful icon of St. John Ogilvie.
In the congregation were members of the family of John Fagan whose miraculous cure satisfied the final requirement for the canonisation of John Ogilvie, the artist of the icon Blazena Dzurjanikova, representatives of the Knights of St.Columba, and, on behalf of the City Council, Baillie Margot Clark. The music of the service was led by the St. Mungo Singers.
The service began with a procession of the clergy to the national shrine to St. John Ogilvie while a cantor led the singing of the Litany of Saints, which included prayers of thanks for what we as Christians have in common, and of intercession that we be filled with mutual love. At the shrine, Archbishop Tartaglia dedicated the beautiful icon before the procession continued to the sanctuary as the choir sang Casciolini’s Istorum est Enim.
Fr. Tim Curtis gave the reflection. He reminded the congregation that 12 months previously at the beginning of the 4th Centenary celebrations, students from 9 Jesuit colleges had come to Glasgow to form one great choir to sing at the Vespers for the feast. Then exactly one year ago, there had been the ecumenical celebration at which Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor had represented the Pope, and Pope Francis’ very moving letter had been read out. From that service he also cherished the memory of the homily given by Fr. Dermot Preston, the Provincial of the Jesuits in Britain.
He recalled that the 4th Centenary had also been marked by many other events: by special films, poetry and plays (including Stephen Callaghan of AGAP’s play on the life of St. John Ogilvie). The parish community at St. Aloysius had travelled on pilgrimage to Keith, the birthplace of the saint, to celebrate his memory. And so in many different ways, St. John had been able to touch people during this year.
Now there was the new icon, and Fr. Curtis welcomed the artist and her family to the service. He reminded the congregation that icons are not paintings to be looked at but stories to be read. In the icon John Ogilvie comes to a community in need to give strength and encouragement. He would have welcomed this ecumenical event tonight, said Fr. Tim. It had been an extraordinary year of graces which he hoped would continue into the future.
The final beautiful prayer of the service was provided by the Moderator :-
Almighty God, in your love for humanity you give us men and women of great faith, who, by their lives and actions, show that your love will never cease or be overcome.
Your faithful children face hardship in many places in the world this night and some may even suffer unto death for that faith. In times past you have given us the example of St John Ogilvie, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Janani Luwum of Uganda and Oscar Romero of San Salvador: you have given us others, some known and many more unknown, but each in faith prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice in following our Lord.
Encouraged by that great cloud of witnesses give us grace to follow in the way of faith, in our day, that we might call the world to new reality in your kingdom where all will live in peace and all will know your love.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ to whom with you the Father, and the Holy Spirit be all glory and praise in this world and the next. Amen.
This was followed by a message of congratulations on behalf of the Lord Provost and City by Baillie Clark who expressed her sense of privilege in being present at the service and her thanks to all who had made it possible.
The final blessing was led by the Moderator and the service ended with the well-known and well-loved hymn in honour of St. John Ogilvie “On the Battlefields of Scotland” . All present were then invited to enjoy the generous hospitality of the St. Aloysius community in the adjacent Multicultural Centre.