On 3 rd February 2011, the Marist community celebrated the life of another of their retired brothers, Brother Jerome (Joseph Gilligan) at St. Peter’s, Partick. Brother Colin and others of the Marists in Glasgow were joined for the funeral by their Provincial, Br. Brendan, as well as a number of priests who had known Br. Jerome through his work in their parishes, Sisters and staff of Nazareth House where he had spent his last years, and teachers and former pupils from the schools at which he had taught.
The principal celebrant was Fr. Willy Slavin, and musical support for the Mass was provided by members of the St. Mungo Singers. Before the Mass began, the choir sang “And in my flesh” or “I know that my Redeemer lives” – a setting of words from the Book of Job, and Noel Donnelly played quietly on clarsach.
The Liturgy started with the singing of “Be Thou my Vision”, a hymn whose words were well suited to the occasion. The readings were from the Book of Wisdom, the First Letter of St. John and the Gospel of Matthew (the Beatitudes). The Responsorial Psalm was Noel Donnelly’s setting of Psalm 120 with its beautiful response “Guard me, Lord. Enfold me in peace. Bless your servant, Lord”. The intercessions concluded with the sung “May the souls of the faithful departed.”[audio:may-the-souls.mp3]
An appreciation of Br. Jerome’s life was given by Br. Bede who had been friends with him since primary school in Jarrow. They had entered the Marists together and he recalled their interrupted education during World War II and afterwards. Br. Jerome had taught first in St. Joseph’s College, Dumfries, before coming to Glasgow.
His first school was St. Mary’s Primary in Calton, where he had started football teams, and one star player had been Tommy Burns. He then moved to St. Stephen’s before moving to St. Mary’s, Maryhill, as Headmaster. His relationship with his staff had been one of great mutual appreciation. He had set up many activities including a Maths project, and his summer camps were legendary. Br. Jerome retired in 1992 and had a chance at last to enjoy many interests including walking. He and Br. Bede became involved in chaplaincy work in Drumchapel at the invitation of the parish priest of Immaculate Conception, and they set up many small house prayer groups.
After a stroke, Br. Jerome’s physical and mental health deteriorated and he spent the last 3 years in Nazareth House. He had a great love of Our Lady and a great reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, and he still was able to join in prayer even in hospital at the end. For Br. Bede, St. Paul’s words on the character of charity provided a perfect description of the friend he had known for so long.
At the end of the Mass, Fr. Slavin expressed his own great appreciation for the work of the Marists and other religious congregations and, referring to the Jarrow to London marches, he said how glad he was that Brs. Jerome and Bede had chosen to march to Glasgow instead!
After the Final Commendation, sung by Br. Julian, the congregation and choir joined in singing an old favourite of Br. Jerome’s “O Mother Blest”, as his coffin was taken from the church on its final journey.