Br. Gerard Gillespie RIP

Br. Gerard Gillespie RIP

The Marist community in Glasgow bade farewell to one of its retired members, Brother Gerard Gillespie, at his funeral Mass on 31 July. They joined his family and friends, and some of his former students at St. Leo’s, Dumbreck where Br. Gerard had been a familiar figure at weekday Mass for many years while living in the Marist house at Nithsdale Road. Among the congregation were staff from Nazareth House, Cardonald where he had spent his final years before his death at the age of 88.

Parish priest, Mgr Gerry Fitzpatrick, concelebrated the funeral Mass with Fr. John Gannon from the neighbouring parish of St. Albert’s, Fr. Hugh O’Donnell and Fr. Jack Sheridan who had known Br.Gerard at Nazareth House. The music of the liturgy was supported by Dr. Noel Donnelly and the St. Mungo Singers.

Br. Brendan spoke with great affection about Br. Gerard in his eulogy. After thanking all who had come to the funeral Mass, he reflected that Br. Gerard had taught him when he was 14 and when he had gone to visit him after his appointment as Provincial and had told Br.Gerard of his new position, Br. Gerard had delivered a beautiful “put-down” to any pretension on his part, saying with his well-known dry humour “you know, you used to be a nice young man”.

Br. Gerard, he said, had always said things as he saw them and had always spoken truth to power. Born and brought up in Townhead, Glasgow, he had entered the juniorate on 4 September 1939, the day after his birthday and the declaration of the 2nd World War. He was capable, practical and reliable in all he did. After gaining his degree at St. Andrew’s University, he taught in the UK, Kenya, Madegascar, Ghana, France and Italy.

Recalling the reading from the Letter to the Philippians, Br. Brendan described its aptness for Br. Gerard who had in truth abandoned all to find Christ. He had lived his Marist vocation with passion and dedication, giving more than 100%. As well as teaching English, history, mathematics, music and Latin, in the course of his career, he had helped build ovens in Kenya, and had been involved in carpentry and beekeeping. Always he had tried to bring out the best in his students. A perfectionist, he was also given to self-criticism.

His love of music showed particularly in a devotion to Gilbert & Sullivan light operas, to which he introduced his students. He also loved nature and gardening, and he had his students doing double-digging in all kinds of weather, as many would remember. (Mgr. Gerry recalled how he had kept tropical fish and probably knew each one by name!). He was also interested in food and cooking, and Br. Brendan was sure he would now be enjoying the heavenly banquet!

Requiescat in pace, Br. Gerard.