The Relics will be arriving in our parish on Friday 30th of August at 11am. Father Jim Grant, Secretary to the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, has organised a procession on the Friday morning, beginning at 10.15am, as the Relics are solemnly transferred from Saint Theresa’s Church in Newarthill, where they will be kept the night before, after they arrive by road from France.
The procession will be led by the Scottish Secondary Schools’ Pipe Band, and he hopes that children from Saint Theresa’s and Our Lady and Saint Francis Primary Schools will be involved. I know he hopes that many people will turn out to see the Relics as they are brought to Saint Francis Xavier’s.
After solemnly welcoming the Relics to our Church, Bishop Toal will celebrate Mass for the seventy-three Primary and fourteen Secondary Schools of our Diocese – all of which will be represented by three pupils and two members of staff. This Mass is probably best avoided because of the large numbers people expected!
At 2pm there will be a special Mass ‘Saint Therese model in Sickness and Suffering’ during which the Sacrament of the Sick will be given to anyone who would wish to receive it. After Mass there will be an extended period of Confessions with several confessors available.
At 7pm Canon John Udris, who teaches at St. Mary’s College, Oscott, will preach at a special Mass, to which the Priests and Religious of the Diocese are invited. I hope that many of you will come to hear him – he is a wonderful preacher and an expert on the life of Saint Thérèse. After Mass there will be a torchlight procession to the statue of the Saint, placed in the Grotto by Canon Taylor in the 1920s, and after prayers, there will be an opportunity to receive an individual blessing with the Relic of Saint Thérèse – this is the revival of an old custom from Canon Taylor’s day. After Night Prayers, from 11pm, the Rosary will be recited each hour on the hour in the parish church until 7am.
We have full a full programme on Day 2 and Day 3 of the visit of the Relics of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux. Canon John Udris, a priest of the Archdiocese of Birmingham, and an expert on the life of Saint Thérèse, will be the main celebrant and preacher at the 10am Mass.
An extended period of Confessions will then be offered, and at 12noon Midday Prayer will
be sung, followed by the recitation of the Rosary at 12.30pm. At 1pm Father O’Donnell will
celebrate the Solemn Mass, after which there will be an opportunity to receive an individual
blessing with the Relic of Saint Thérèse. Another period for private visits, during which
Confessions will be heard, will follow. At 5pm the Parish Vigil Mass. At 7.30pm special devotions in honour of Saint Thérèse and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. After Night Prayers at 10.30pm, the Rosary will be recited each hour on the hour until 7am.
The Sunday in many ways takes care of itself because of the Parish schedule with Masses at 9am and 11am, although we have the special permission of the Bishops of Scotland to celebrate Votive Masses of Saint Thérèse using the Prayers and Readings in honour of the Saint. From 12.30pm until 2.30pm several confessors will be available in the Parish Church to hear confessions. At 3pm the Right Rev. Joseph Toal, Bishop of Motherwell, will be the principal celebrant at the National Pilgrimage Mass in the Grotto, he will be joined by the Archbishops and Bishops of Scotland, as well as lay faithful from all over the country. At the conclusion of Mass there will a Solemn Farewell to the Relics which will be driven to Galloway Diocese.
We hope too to publish five new in-house booklets, like the existing ones, in relation to the visit of Saint Thérèse’s relics. The finishing touches are being put to these at the moment.
I expect the Grotto will have the largest number of visitors it has had for decades over the three days. I will need to ask for your generous help. Please consider getting involved. We will have a meeting about this on Monday 12th August at 7.30pm in the Xavier Centre.