Flourish, the monthly newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Glasgow

From the October 2017 edition…

Shining a light on the life of Brother Walfrid

The life of Brother Walfrid, man of God, Marist Religious, champion of the poor and globally revered as the founder of Celtic, is to be the subject of an in-depth four-year study, it can now be exclusively revealed by Flourish.

Two years in the planning and with a budget of £25,000 it will take the form of a PhD by lifelong Celtic fan and Glasgow University post graduate student Michael Connolly under the supervision of Dr Joe Bradley, a highly respected academic at Stirling University.

The PhD’s working title is Faith, Community & Football: Searching for Brother Walfrid.

The planned research, a world first, will be part of a wider campaign to raise understanding and awareness of the Marist Brother’s life and works.

Archbishop Philip Tartaglia, himself a passionate Celtic fan, hailed the new study as “shining an academic light on the person, the faith and motivations of Brother Walfrid”.

He said: “I very much welcome the news that an in-depth study under the supervision of Dr Bradley into the life of the Marist religious, Brother Walfrid, is currently being planned.

“As Glasgow’s current Catholic Archbishop, as a very proud Glaswegian who was brought up in the city’s east end, and as a Celtic supporter and football man, I look forward to the eventual publication of this new study on Brother Walfrid, Marist Brother, founding father of Glasgow Celtic F.C., apostle of the poor, and a champion for all Glasgow’s people.”

Walfrid founded Celtic in 1887 to alleviate poverty among Irish immigrants in Glasgow’s east end.

Fully-funded with a £25,000 grant by Glasgow-based arts group Nine Muses, the study “seeks to explore and understand Walfrid and his importance to Catholic religious, social and cultural identities in Scotland.”

Nine Muses owner Emma O’Neil said: “There are so many questions left unanswered about Brother Walfrid. And they’ll remain unanswered unless there’s an in-depth study of this great man’s contribution to religious, social, economic and cultural life in late nineteenth century Glasgow Scotland and that’s why we were delighted to organise and commission this study.”

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Archbishop to teachers: Be true to the faith

Catholic schools are shaping up to mark a milestone anniversary with the clear message that they are good for Scotland ... that was also the message of Archbishop Tartaglia as he celebrated a special Mass for teachers and school staff in St Andrew’s Cathedral.

Recalling the upcoming centenary of the 1918 Education Act which stabilised the position of Catholic schools in Scotland, the Archbishop said: "Our strapline for this commemorative year is ‘Catholic Schools, good for Scotland’. We are good for Scotland if Jesus Christ is at the centre of our school communities. And Jesus will be at the centre of our school communities if he is at the centre of our teachers’ lives. I am convinced that you can make the difference. So I offer you this advice:

“Be conscious of your vocation, of your calling as a Catholic teacher and as a teacher/staff member in a Catholic school. Rejoice in that calling, for it is a sacred and important calling.

“Don’t neglect to nourish your own spiritual lives with prayer, with the Word of God and with the Sacraments. For you need the Lord’s grace to sustain your vocation as a Catholic teacher.”

The Archbishop went on to implore teachers to commit themselves to a traditional life of prayer and piety. He said: “Be faithful to Sunday Mass. Go to Confession. Develop habits of prayer. Say the Rosary. Be aware of the presence of the Lord who calls you to follow him on the path of holiness and respond to him with faith and with prayer. Never doubt the importance of your witness of faith to the children and young people in your classrooms.

“The delivery of good lessons is of course central to a teacher’s work. When those lessons are permeated by the teacher’s obviously lived personal faith in Jesus Christ, then your pupils will really sense that, and education becomes Catholic education and formation in faith.

“So do not be afraid but trust in the grace and help of God; seek the intercession of Our Lady and of the saints. And be sure that your vocation and service as a Catholic teacher is precious and valued by the Catholic community and by me as your bishop.”

Dr Leonard Franchi from the University of Glasgow’s School of Education echoed the Achbishop’s words. He said: “The 2018 anniversary is a timely opportunity to ‘reboot’ our thinking about the vocation of the teacher. I welcome Archbishop Philip’s call for teachers to love the Mass, pray the rosary and make use of the sacrament of Confession.

“As we know, there was a time when devotions such as the Rosary and Adoration were not what ‘educated Catholics’ did – and how quickly frequent confession fell off the map! Thankfully, such wholesome practices are gaining favour again among young Catholics.

“My wish for 2018 is that we focus on how we continue to reform Catholic education in the light of our intellectual and pastoral traditions. This will take courage but the grace of God will sustain us.”

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