Fr John Carroll beginning the Mass

Our annual Mass for those attending the Celtic Connections Festival in Glasgow took place in its usual venue, St Aloysius, on 26th January. The St Mungo Singers, St Mungo’s Choir from Alloa and our group of instrumentalists provided the musical support for the service, with piper Isla MacLennan playing outside the church to welcome people. Members of the Knights of St Columba were present among the congregations, together with representatives of the Gaelic and Irish communities.

Principal celebrant this year was Fr. John Carroll, another musically gifted priest of the Archdiocese, and he was joined by Mgr Gerry and members of the Jesuit community of St Aloysius to concelebrate. The concelebrants wore the lovely embroidered orphreys, which are the work of the Sacred Threads group to designs by Netta Ewing.

The Mass is a great opportunity to hear modern music by Scottish and Irish liturgical composers as well as older pieces. This year these included Catherine Walker’s Trinity of Love, Bob Chilcott’s Irish Blessing and A Touching Place by John Bell, as well as Stephen Smyth and David Harris’ setting of St Patrick’s Breastplate and Noel Donnelly’s Unless the Seed lies buried in the ground.

The procession shows the beautiful orphreys at close quarters

Before the beginning of Mass, Carissa Swan on harp and John Allan on whistle played a piece of music by Donald MacInnes (written for use at a SPRED mass). Two other modern pieces added further richness to the music of the liturgy: Tim Mannion’s hymn based on Psalm 26 One thing I ask, and Sean Bowman and Geoffrey Nobes’ hymn I am the Vine.

After the readings of the Word – the first and second were in Gaelic and Irish respectively – Mgr. Gerry gave the homily, raising a smile when he apologised for the fact that it was usually a distinguished priest who would be doing this but the invited homilist had been unable to attend due to illness, so he would have to do.

Reflecting on the readings, he reminded the congregation that the first reading was one that we had at Christmas, announcing the coming of the Light and the divine presence. The message is the Kingdom of God is at hand and we must change. The second reading was an apt one at the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. St Paul is reminding the Corinthians – and us- that there is only one Gospel, only one Christ, and we are called to do good as he did.

Mgr Gerry also referred to the Pope’s message to the meeting in Davos where he reminded those gathered there that they must not forget that people come first, and technology should be there to serve them.  Finishing on a lighter note, he said it was good to have an opportunity to celebrate our Celtic culture, and he welcomed all who had come to Glasgow to enjoy it.

At the end of Mass, there was the opportunity to enjoy tea, coffee and nibbles in the Ogilvie Centre and chat.