‘Grace to you and peace from God the Father; grace to you and peace from the Lord Jesus Christ’
There was great joy in Glasgow when the announcement was made that, just over a year after the death of Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, the Pope had chosen a new Archbishop for the Archdiocese- Bishop William Nolan of Galloway who was known to many in the Archdiocese as a result of his Presidency of the Justice & Peace Commission of the Bishops’ Conference.
As Lent was due to start on 2 March, much had to be done to ensure the installation could take place before then, and 26 February was chosen as the date. The Cathedral was crowded for the service, with representatives from all parishes, church representatives from other Christian denominations, and priests and deacons from across the Archdiocese, as well as members of the new Archbishop’s family and civic leaders from the city.
The Archdiocesan choir, the St Mungo Singers, led the music for the Mass of Installation. Amid the formalities of the installation, there was a sense of the people of the Archdiocese waiting to greet their new Archbishop and get a sense of him. Their first opportunity was in his homily where he did not avoid the issues affecting both church and community.
He reminded people that the sole purpose of the Church was to preach good news, that Jesus had come to bring life. But we are a church of sinners and we cannot blame others for the scandals we have faced for which he, as had his predecessor, apologised. We have to reach out to victims and change our ways to avoid it happening again. We had also suffered through the effects of Covid on our community.
To the priests of the Archdiocese, he acknowledged that it was not easy to be a priest at this time but they had to persevere even though their ministry was hindered by the scandals and then by Covid which cut them off from their people. He urged them to lift up their heads, realise the joys of the Gospel and bring it and hope to people.
To the religious and laity present, he acknowledged that their faith had been affected by the scandals and by the closure of churches and parishes as numbers dropped but we must not live in the past but in the present, sow the seeds of faith and have faith.
To the representatives of other churches, he said it was good that they were present as their presence indicated that the scandals of divisions and hostility towards each other were past and we could now be united in proclaiming the good news so that Glasgow would flourish.
Finally to the civic representatives, he expressed his admiration for those in public service who cared about the good of their people just as the church does.
Archbishop Nolan expressed his hope that all would walk hand in hand. He , like Jeremiah, was aware of his inadequacies but trusted that God would work through him and that the Sower would continue to sow the seeds of the Gospel.
The Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Gugerotti, in his remarks to those present suggested that this was a special time. Our new Archbishop was an expert on Justice and Peace, and peace in our world was fragile as we were only too aware now. Peace is the gift and fruit of justice. Anyone who thought it could be gained by war was talking nonsense. We needed tenderness, fraternity, collaboration and tolerance.
The Mass finished with the singing of the Salve Regina and the great hymn of joy and trust, the Te Deum.