Nostalgic visit for Father John

Father John Robinson
Father John Robinson

FATHER John Robinson last week made a happy return to the Borders town where he first served 25 years ago.

Now aged 70 and having been a priest for 40 years, he reflected happily on his time as the parish priest in Selkirk.

Apart from taking services on Sundays and entertaining in the house next door to the Church of Our St Lady and St Joseph, Father Robinson, pictured, was closely involved in all aspects of the community. He is often remembered, for instance, for his eloquent address at a Selkirk Merchant Company dinner.

“It was great to come back for I have very happy memories of this place,” he told us. “I loved to get involved, not just the church, and I also owe the local press and media a grateful thanks for their support.

“I miss the community aspect and all the Borders traditions.

“I got the call from the [now] Cardinal Keith O’Brien asking me to take over Selkirk – and agreed to go only if I was allowed to stay there.

“So I did, and enjoyed myself immensely.”

He is now studying the history of the Selkirk area and spent some time last week wandering through the Auld Kirkyard and tracing the steps of the monks of the old abbey.

Father Robinson, who now stays in Edinburgh, first came to Selkirk in 1986 after a spell at the former home for people with learning disabilities in Balnakiel, Galashiels, where he took over the parishes of Lauderdale, which included Earlston, Lauder and Melrose.

He later moved to St Joseph’s in Peebles, where he continued his pastoral work in the community.

He then answered a call to Livingston, but was forced to take a year out after injuring a knee while walking on the Pentlands, and then took over at the Sacred Heart in Penicuik

He later became a freelance preacher, taking to the pulpits to inspire worshippers across a range of faiths, including the Church of Scotland and the Episcopalian Church, and he is a member of the Murrayfield Churches Project. He is also a chaplain at the Royal Infirmary in Edinburgh.

Life is as hectic as ever for a man whom many will know as the “wandering priest”, but while Edinburgh is home, Selkirk and its Souters will never be forgotten.