Former trade union activist ordained priest in Glasgow

 On Saturday 14th June, Gerard Gallen SJ was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Mario Conti at St Aloysius - the Jesuit church in Glasgow. Fr Gerard, 42, from Craigneuk in the Diocese of Motherwell, joined the Jesuits twelve years ago, leaving behind a career as a civil servant in what is now the Department for International Development. He was an active member of the Civil and Public Services Association (CPSA), something - it was pointed out during the ceremony - he has in common with two other young Jesuits who joined the Society in the 1990s. Since joining the Society of Jesus, Gerard has worked and studied in places as far apart as Birmingham, London, Bournemouth, Dublin and Guyana, and is currently completing a Masters degree in religious education in Boston, Massachusetts. In the coming year, his first assignment as a priest is expected to be as a chaplain in one of the five Jesuit secondary schools in Britain. On the sanctuary on Saturday afternoon were thirty-one concelebrating priests - among them Jesuits from all over Britain and from Fr Gerard's community in Boston, and priests of the dioceses of Motherwell and Glasgow - and two Jesuit deacons. The renowned choir of St Aloysius' Church, under the baton of Mr Daniel Divers, provided a superb musical accompaniment including some music by Jesuits - most notably a setting of the Litany of the Saints by Fr Adrian Porter SJ, the Head of St Aloysius' College, who was among the concelebrants. In his concluding remarks, Archbishop Conti paid warm tribute to the Society of Jesus and its contribution to the life and development of the Catholic faith in Scotland. The ceremony was followed by a reception at St Aloysius' College. Fr Gerard celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving the following day in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Good Aid in Motherwell. A ripple of laughter went through the packed church when he began, "In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen," and, after a short pause, "So far, so good!" But the rest of the Mass - including some excellent singing from the Motherwell Diocesan Choir - went very smoothly. Fr Gerard commented later that the whole weekend had been "like a dream", though he was unused to being such a centre of attention: "This is ten times better than winning the pools, but I wish I'd put an X in the box for no publicity!"

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