Due to the coronavirus pandemic the latest May edition of Flourish is not being printed and is available in digital form only. You can read selected stories online on this page or download a PDF of the whole paper.

Archbishop leads digital outreach


The Church in Glasgow has embraced a digital revolution in a bid to bring solace and comfort to people across the Archdiocese. Read more…


Vocations grow even in lockdown world

Thoughts for Vocations Sunday
Read more…

Communications Sunday

The greatest story ever told

Pope Francis’ letter to the faithful
Read more…


Brother Walfrid’s visit to France

PhD student retraces Celtic founder’s trip to Marist Brothers college
Read more…

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Urgent appeal

The current emergency means our churches have had to close, but costs remain and some parishes are in a difficult situation. If your own circumstances allow it, please consider helping us by donating £5 during this worrying time. The Archdiocese has set up a system whereby you can simply text RCARCHGLA to 70085 to donate £5. Please share this emergency donation option with others, especially those who may be anxious because they normally contribute to their parish through collection envelopes. Those who use collection envelopes are asked to continue to place donations in these and deliver them to the local parish after the emergency has passed.

Archbishop leads digital outreach

By Editor

The Church in Glasgow has embraced a digital revolution in a bid to bring solace and comfort to people across the Archdiocese.

Archbishop Tartaglia has led the way with a series of recorded video messages which have been posted on the Archdiocese’s own YouTube channel and on Facebook. Apart from a heartfelt Easter blessing, the Archbishop has also recorded a visit to the sick in which he prays the simple prayers with those who may be lonely or in hospital and unable to receive visitors.

His most recent video is a thankyou message to care workers and NHS staff.

Meanwhile the Archdiocese’s social media channels have seen record numbers using the services to get to Mass online, hear updates from the local and universal Church and to get news on what’s happening in their communities.

During the first month of the lockdown the reach of the Archdiocese’s Facebook channel was over 142,000 people, while tweets posted on the official Twitter page were seen by over a million people.

The videos posted on Facebook had more than 10,000 minutes viewing, with figures up over 1000 per cent month on month.

Archbishop Tartaglia has used his weekly Masses which are streamed live form the Cathedral over the internet to offer words of consolation and hope to the whole diocese.

He said: “It hurts so much that our churches are closed and we cannot physically come to Mass and we cannot receive Jesus sacramentally in Holy Communion. Yet we must bear this painful Eucharistic fast for the moment for the sake of the health of all.

“At the same time, we recognise the risen Christ in other ways. We recognise him in faith in the depths of our hearts and in our prayers at home. We recognise him in the faces of those who are suffering; in the pain of those who have been bereaved; in the dedication of those who help the sick; in our efforts to help one another through this time; in our powerlessness and in our hopefulness; and in our surrender to God’s loving purpose. In all these ways, the risen Christ is present and is with us.

“You will tell me that I keep saying, my dear friends, that this time will pass. When, I do not know, but it will. We will come together again. Together we will once more recognise the risen Lord in the breaking of the bread. Finally, the priest will take bread, break it and give it to you to eat. We will once more enjoy sacramental communion with our beloved risen Lord Jesus. We will, together once again, be inspired by him to praise his name and to follow his message. What a day that will be!”


Vocations grow even in lockdown world


Keep our seminarians in your prayers in these strange times… That is the powerful message from Father Ross Campbell, director of vocations for the Archdiocese, as he presented a Vocations Sunday update on the current situation involving those currently studying for the priesthood.

Fr Ross told Flourish: “While these are challenging times for both the Church and society at large, I am not without hope. I think when we are once again able to return to public Mass many will do so with a deeper appreciation and reverence for Our Lord in the Eucharist. When this happens, so often vocations to the priesthood follow. In the meantime, please keep our seminarians in your prayers as they adapt to how their formation is delivered in these strange times.”

St Andrew’s Day at Scots College Rome

The Archdiocese of Glasgow currently has five seminarians in training and three men coming along to the discernment evenings. The three students at the Scots College, Rome, are presently back in the diocese and living in the presbyteries of their home parish, so are able to keep a spiritual structure to their day with prayer and the Mass and have time to continue with their online classes at the Pontifical Universities.

Glasgow also has two students at the Beda College who remain in Rome and it is hoped they will be able to return to the diocese later in the summer.

“In terms of future plans – as is the case with so much at the moment, it is a case of wait and see,” said Fr Ross. “We hope that our students will be able to return to seminary in September but the Colleges and Diocesan Vocations Directors are working on contingency plans to continue formation remotely if this is not possible.

“Zoom, something which I had never heard of just a few weeks ago, has now become an indispensable tool for promoting vocations!”

If you are considering a vocation to the priesthood – perhaps sign up for our vocations QnA with Fr Campbell, the Archbishop and one of our seminarians Edward Toner. This takes place on Vocations Sunday (3rd May) at 4pm. It will be an online session via Zoom. When restrictions are lifted we hope to continue with the monthly Discernment evenings.


The greatest story ever told


With churches closed, the Church has had to be more creative than ever in communicating with the rest of society. Later this month (May 24), we will mark Communications Sunday. Pope Francis has written this lovely letter ahead of the event to remind us of how important communication is in our own lives and the life of faith.

Pope Francis
Pope Francis

Human beings are storytellers. From childhood we hunger for stories just as we hunger for food. Stories influence our lives, whether in the form of fairy tales, novels, films, songs, news, even if we do not always realise it. Often we decide what is right or wrong based on characters and stories we have made our own.

Stories leave their mark on us; they shape our convictions and our behaviour. They can help us understand and communicate who we are.

We are not the only beings who need clothing to cover our vulnerability, we are also the only ones who need to be “clothed” with stories to protect our lives. We weave not only clothing, but also stories: indeed, the human capacity to “weave” (Latin texere) gives us not only the word textile but also text.

The stories of different ages all have a common “loom”: the thread of their narrative involves “heroes”, including everyday heroes, who in following a dream confront difficult situations and combat evil, driven by a force that makes them courageous – the force of love. By immersing ourselves in stories, we can find reasons to heroically face the challenges of life.

Yet since the very beginning, our story has been threatened: evil snakes its way through history.

Not all stories are good stories

“When you eat of it … you will be like God” … the temptation of the serpent introduces into the fabric of history a knot that is difficult to undo. “If you possess, you will become, you will achieve…” This is the message whispered by those who even today use storytelling for purposes of exploitation. How many stories serve to lull us, convincing us that to be happy we continually need to gain, possess and consume?


We may not realise how greedy we have become for chatter and gossip, or how much violence and falsehood we are consuming. Often on communication platforms, instead of constructive stories which serve to strengthen social ties and the cultural fabric, we find destructive and provocative stories that wear down and break the fragile threads binding us together as a society.

By patching together bits of unverified information, repeating banal and deceptively persuasive arguments, sending strident and hateful messages, we do not help to weave human history, but instead strip others of their dignity.


But whereas the stories employed for exploitation and power have a short lifespan, a good story can transcend the confines of space and time. Centuries later, it remains timely, for it nourishes life.

In an age when falsification is increasingly sophisticated, reaching exponential levels (as in the world of deepfake), we need wisdom to be able to welcome and create beautiful, true and good stories. We need courage to reject false and evil stories. We need patience and discernment to rediscover stories that help us not to lose the thread amid today’s many troubles. We need stories that reveal who we truly are, also in the untold heroism of everyday life.

The Story of stories

Sacred Scripture is a Story of stories. How many events, peoples and individuals it sets before us! It shows us from the very beginning a God who is both creator and narrator. Indeed, God speaks his word and things come into existence!

As narrator, God calls things into life, culminating in the creation of man and woman as his free dialogue partners, who make history alongside him.

The Bible is thus the great love story between God and humanity. At its centre stands Jesus, whose own story brings to fulfilment both God’s love for us and our love for God.

Jesus spoke of God not with abstract concepts, but with parables, brief stories taken from everyday life.


The Gospels are also stories, and not by chance. The Gospel asks the reader to share in the same faith in order to share in the same life. The Gospel of John tells us that the quintessential storyteller – the Word – himself becomes the story: God has become personally woven into our humanity, and so has given us a new way of weaving our stories.

An ever new story

The history of Christ is not a legacy from the past; it is our story, and always timely. It shows us that God was so deeply concerned for mankind, for our flesh and our history, to the point that he became man, flesh and history. It also tells us that no human stories are insignificant or paltry.

Since God became story, every human story is, in a certain sense, a divine story. In the history of every person, the Father sees again the story of his Son who came down to earth. Every human story has an irrepressible dignity.

“You” – Saint Paul wrote – “are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts”… By the power of the Holy Spirit, every story, even the most forgotten one, even the one that seems to be written with the most crooked lines, can become inspired, can be reborn as a masterpiece, and become an appendix to the Gospel. Like the Confessions of Augustine. Like A Pilgrim’s Journey of Ignatius. Like The Story of a Soul of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus. Like The Betrothed, like The Brothers Karamazov. Like countless other stories, which have admirably scripted the encounter between God’s freedom and that of man. Each of us knows different stories that have the fragrance of the Gospel, that have borne witness to the Love that transforms life. These stories cry out to be shared, recounted and brought to life in every age, in every language, in every medium.

A story that renews us

Our own story becomes part of every great story. As we read the Scriptures, the stories of the saints, and also those texts that have shed light on the human heart and its beauty, the Holy Spirit is free to write in our hearts, reviving our memory of what we are in God’s eyes. When we remember the love that created and saved us, when we make love a part of our daily stories, when we weave the tapestry of our days with mercy, we are turning another page.

We no longer remain tied to regrets and sadness, bound to an unhealthy memory that burdens our hearts; rather, by opening ourselves to others, we open ourselves to the same vision of the great storyteller.

Telling God our story is never useless: To tell our story to the Lord is to enter into his gaze of compassionate love for us and for others. We can recount to him the stories we live, bringing to him the people and the situations that fill our lives. With him we can re-weave the fabric of life, darning its rips and tears. How much we, all of us, need to do exactly this!

With the gaze of the great storyteller – the only one who has the ultimate point of view – we can then approach the other characters, our brothers and sisters, who are with us as actors in today’s story. For no one is an extra on the world stage, and everyone’s story is open to possible change. Even when we tell of evil, we can learn to leave room for redemption; in the midst of evil, we can also recognize the working of goodness and give it space.


Let us entrust ourselves to a woman who knit together in her womb the humanity of God and, the Gospel tells us, wove together the events of her life… Let us ask for help from her, who knew how to untie the knots of life with the gentle strength of love:

O Mary, woman and mother, you wove the divine Word in your womb, you recounted by your life the magnificent works of God. Listen to our stories, hold them in your heart and make your own the stories that no one wants to hear. Teach us to recognise the good thread that runs through history. Look at the tangled knots in our life that paralyse our memory. By your gentle hands, every knot can be untied. Woman of the Spirit, mother of trust, inspire us too. Help us build stories of peace, stories that point to the future. And show us the way to live them together.



Brother Walfrid’s French visit revealed


Since beginning the research project in September 2017 I have been on a fascinating journey retracing the steps of Brother Walfrid. 

So far I’ve travelled to his birthplace in Ballymote, County Sligo and interviewed his surviving relatives.

I’ve also visited the parish school in Spitalfields, London where he taught after moving there from Glasgow.

Most recently, I’ve now visited the Marist Archives located in Lyon, France where I managed to uncover some new details about Andrew Kerins’ formation as Brother Walfrid in his early 20s.

Michael Connelly
Michael Connelly with Peter Howson’s portrait of Brother Walfrid

I first became aware of the Marist archives in St-Genis-Laval, near the city of Lyon in south-east France, around eighteen months ago in 2018.

It was then that I made initial contact with Carles Domenech, archivist for the combined historical records of the Brothers in France.

Given that a young Andrew Kerins had travelled to France in the early 1860s to ‘take the habit’ and join the Marist Brothers my focus was to uncover as much details as possible on what was perhaps the most formative event in the life of Brother Walfrid’s life.

He travelled from Glasgow to the Marist training college at Beaucamps in the north of France as a 24-year-old postulant in 1864. Thanks to the work completed at the Lyon archive, all of the surviving historic materials from the Marist bases in France are now able to be researched from a central location.

The archival collection is understandably wide-ranging and dates back to the foundation of the Marist Brothers by Saint Marcellin Champagnat over two centuries ago in 1817.

I was delighted and grateful to be working alongside Brothers Alois – a German – and Andre Lanfrey – a Frenchman –who very kindly offered their own translations of and insights into some of the new information uncovered.

I also visited two sites in the region which are integral to the origins of the Marist Order. La Valla is a small hilltop town set within a mountainous region between the French cities of Lyon and St Etienne.

It was here that Saint Marcellin Champagnat, then a local priest, came and gathered candidates together on January 2nd 1817 to instruct them on how to become the very first Marist Brothers.

We were able to see for ourselves the original classroom where the Marist educational tradition began. The site is now preserved as part of a museum and visitor centre which welcomes guest from all over the world. I noted that the guest book there was signed by pilgrims from China, Russia and Brazil. A truly global movement!

The second stop on our whistle-stop tour was Notre Dame de L’Hermitage – the original ‘Mother house’ for the Marist Brothers – which is set close by La Valla in the Rhone valley outside Lyon. This worldwide base for the institute was first constructed during the lifetime of Saint Champagnat.

It also now houses an extensive modern museum which details how the Brothers branched out from their humble origins in France and eventually spread their teaching to all corners of the globe, including of course Scotland.

The opportunity to immerse myself in the very origins of the Marist Brothers by visiting both La Valla and L’Hermitage was above and beyond what I expected to achieve from the trip to Lyon.

Coupled with the archival work carried out at St-Genis-Laval and living within the international community of Brothers for the week, I now have a much deeper understanding of the Marist charism and how it manifests in practice.

Everywhere I have been people have been more than helpful in sharing what they know about Brother Walfrid and I’ve learnt so much along the way.

I’m learning something new all the time and am excited to share my knowledge when my research is complete.

For this update I would like to thank Brother Dr Brendan Geary, who recently retired as Marist Provincial for West Central Europe, for helping to facilitate a research trip which was almost two years in the planning. My thanks also to Emma O’Neil from the Nine Muses group who funded the research trip as well as providing a limited-edition box set of Peter Howson’s portrait of Brother Walfrid to present as a gift to the Marist community in Lyon.