Sunday June 29th. 2014                                                                                        Charity registration No. SC 002876

St. Margaret's,                        St. Joseph's,                        St. Finnan's
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Last Monday's impressive ceremony of Bishop Toal’s installation as the new Bishop of the diocese of Motherwell was incredibly beautiful and moving, something  everyone will remember with immense joy for the presence of the Holy Spirit was very evident.  The whole ceremony was planned in every detail and flowed beautifully from beginning to end. The organist and choir gave tremendous support to the liturgy, and enhanced it all so wonderfully with their  magnificent singing.

The Apostolic Nuncio was present along with  twelve other bishops, over a hundred priests, clergy from other denominations,  dignitaries and  representatives from the local area. We were all entertained afterwards to a magnificent buffet in then nearby Catholic school.

Three Motherwell ladies came up to the table where Mrs Toal was sitting, and said “Don’t you worry Mrs Toal, we will take good care of your son!”

Bishop Toal’s installation as Bishop of Motherwell Diocese

We are indeed blessed to have this vision, this faith, which inspires and guides us through the joys and sorrows of life ad offers us the great hope of eternal life in and through the Lord Jesus.

Influence of marriage on children

Over the year I have been Apostolic Administrator of Motherwell it has been good to have the presence of young people from the schools in the Diocese at special Masses and celebrations in the Cathedral and to have visited some of the schools for their own celebrations. This contact with the young people in the schools and elsewhere has to be an important part of the Bishop’s ministry in this Diocese and I will try follow Bishop Devine’s example in making it so. It is important that we pass on the hope-filled vision of the fullness of life offered to us in Christ to our young people and to enthuse them to participate as fully as they can in the life and worship of the Church through which our life in Christ is sustained and nourished, particularly in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.

Words of encouragement

I offer a special word of encouragement and thanks to parents, grand-parents, teachers, clergy and many others who inspire the young in the ways of faith and lead them by the example of their lives.

John the Baptist was born to Zechariah and Elizabeth at an age when they had lost hope of having children. He was heralded as a special child, an answer to prayer, who would be blessed by the Holy Spirit even in his mother’s womb. The scene of the announcement of his conception and the anticipation of his birth to Zechariah as he fulfilled his priestly duties in the temple has a great sense of God’s blessing on the parents, who “were worthy in the sight of God and had scrupulously kept all his commandments”; and through the gift of their child others would also share in this blessing and benefit from the vocation given him by the Lord. Part of our faith is to uphold the teachings given us by the Lord, attested to by the Scriptures, and passed on to us down the centuries by the Magisterium of the Church, and in the scene offered us by St Luke of Zechariah and Elizabeth and their special child, John the Baptist, we can see an affirmation of our faith about marriage as a life-long union of love and fidelity between a man and a woman, open to the possibility of receiving the blessing of children. Just as John the Baptist was marked out as being special in his mother’s womb, whose birth would bring great joy and happiness to many, so are all the unborn, who therefore merit the highest respect and care possible so that, like John the Baptist, they can offer to the world the unique talents and personality the Lord has blessed them with from the moment of conception. The issues in regard to marriage and the unborn child are very

much to the fore in modern society and, while we know others may have differing views, we would want to uphold our right to express our beliefs and to seek protection for the consciences of those who work in public services.

Optimism for the future

I am happy that one of my first duties as Bishop of Motherwell will be to ordain a new priest, Rev Martin Delaney, on Thursday evening in St Ignatius’s, Wishaw. Martin’s ordination will be a great blessing for the Diocese as will be the diaconate ordination of James Travers at Oscott College, Birmingham, on Saturday. As Bishop of Argyll and the Isles, I ordained four men as priests in St Columba’s Cathedral, Oban, three for the Diocese and one for the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, and I also ordained Thomas Wynne to the permanent diaconate recently on June 9th. I do feel some optimism about vocations to the priesthood and diaconate and I take this opportunity to encourage the seminarians of the Diocese of Motherwell, who are serving this Mass, to persevere in their response to the Lord’s call and to know how much we do look forward to their priestly ministry and that we continue to offer them the full support of our prayers. There are others thinking ofpriesthood and the permanent diaconate and I hope the Word of God this evening encourages a positive response and a willingness to leave fear behind. I offer encouragement also to young women and men to think of the vocation to religious life – a number of religious and missionary societies continue to be a very important part of the life and service of this Diocese and I thank you for your presence and all you give and will do so in the future.

Bishop as Shepherd

As I look forward to my ministry among you I ask the Lord to continue to form me in his own image as the Good Shepherd, who will know the smell of his sheep and tend them with the Lord’s own care and compassion (I am probably the first Bishop of Motherwell who has looked after sheep – while I was Parish Priest in St Michael’s, Ardkenneth, South Uist!). I seek the protection and intercession of Mary, the Patroness of the Diocese under the title of Our Lady Assumed into Heaven. May her example as the humble servant of the Lord, open to doing his will, and full of joy in his presence be my guide and inspiration as I serve the Lord and yourselves as Bishop. May the Lord bless us and keep us as one in faith, hope and charity.