At his funeral vigil on Tuesday 14th April, his successor as parish priest, Fr. John McGrath, welcomed members of Fr. Noel’s family from Ireland, and also his parish “family” of St. Aloysius to the service. In his brief reflection, Fr. John brought smiles to many when he said “you always knew where you were with Fr. Noel”. His life, said Fr. John , had been one of constant giving. Even after Fr. Noel retired he was always ready to help out. He had said jokingly that it reminded him that he was still alive!
The following day, Archbishop Tartaglia presided at the funeral Mass, and he was joined by Archbishop Emeritus Conti and priests from the Archdiocese and beyond, and by the local Church of Scotland minister. The church was full of the St. Aloysius “family”.Archbishop Tartaglia, in his homily, repeated his welcome to all present and in particular to Fr. Noel’s family. He took the opportunity to acknowledge their contribution to the Church, with another brother a Redemptorist priest in Brazil and a sister a Dominican in South Africa. It was a reminder too, he said, of the great contribution that Ireland had made to the universal church.
The full church was a testimony, the Archbishop commented, to Fr. Noel’s impact on St. Aloysius’ parish community. He reflected on Fr. Noel’s life as a priest from his ordination in St. Mirren’s Cathedral in 1954 for the Diocese of Paisley – a fact recognised by the presence of Mgr. Monaghan of the Diocese – his coming “on loan” to Glasgow where he remained (was there a transfer fee?), his time as an RAF chaplain and then as a missionary priest with the St. Patrick Missionary Society, before returning to Glasgow.
His final parish had been St. Aloysius, first as an assistant priest and then as Parish Priest for 24 years. Fr. Noel remained in the parish when he retired, and the Archbishop also highlighted Fr. Noel’s continual willingness to help out fellow priests after his retirement. Archbishop Tartaglia recalled his own memories of Fr. Noel– a devout, hardworking and prayerful man. Turning to the readings, the Archbishop reminded the congregation that in this season of Easter, we are invited to believe in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. The joy of this message was lived by Fr. Noel in his own life and communicated by him in his ministry.
Fr. Noel had always been a great supporter of the Archdiocesan choir, the St. Mungo Singers, and they were honoured to provide the music of his funeral services, as they had done for his Diamond Jubilee some nine months before. After the Mass, the parish community provided generous hospitality in the parish hall to mark his passing.