St Mary and St David’s Roman Catholic Church in Hawick welcomed the new Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, Leo Cushley.
“The fact that he’s come to Hawick for his first confirmation is a big thing,” said Father Kevin Douglas. “It’s a real coup for the parish. We’re one of his most far-flung parishes. It’s very generous of him to come down here.”
Archbishop Cushley confirmed four children and an adult after Mass. “I think they were thrilled,” Father Douglas said. “He sat for a long time chatting to them afterwards. He was very kind to them. I was immensely impressed by him. He was very much a man of the church, but he’s very personable, and he was very interested in the parish and the parishioners’ stories.”
The 52-year-old priest from Lanarkshire was installed as the eighth Archbishop in the Diocese on September 21 at a Mass of Episcopal Ordination in Mary’s Cathedral in Edinburgh. At his consecration, the new archbishop spoke of Pope Francis’ advice to be merciful in his ministry.
“[The Pope] explained that being merciful doesn’t mean being soft. It means being gentle, but also firm at the same time. This is what the Pope asked me to be for all of you.”
Archbishop Cushley said: “Father Kevin Douglas kindly invited me to visit Hawick and I was very happy to accept. I have a lot to learn about the Archdiocese. It was lovely to be back and to see this beautiful part of our country. I encouraged [those confirmed] gently to be good Christians in their lives, and to look to the future with confidence.
“I noticed that the church was full, and that there was a great spirit of cooperation in the parish, the social group having mounted – apparently very easily – a lovely tea for everyone afterwards.”
The Archbishop promised to visit all the Borders parishes as soon as could, and spoke of local challenges.
“There is a comparative shortage of priests in our area,” he said, “and we are a Eucharist-centred church, so I will be encouraging priests to be an example, to inspire and encourage good men in their parishes to become good priests, so that the people we serve will be able to attend Mass as frequently as possible and to feel they belong to the church, both local and universal.”