On the Feast of the Ascension, Clydebank had more than one reason to celebrate.

St Margaret of Scotland Hospice Consultant, Professor John Welsh, was formally received into the Church on this very special Holy Day.

In a moving and inclusive Mass on the Feast of the Ascension, Canon Gerard Tartaglia, supported by Hospice Chaplain Frank Wilson, welcomed Professor John to our Church. Professor John’s wife, Sheila, attended the beautiful service, along with some of the Sisters, staff, volunteers and patients. Sister Rita, who has been instructing Professor for some time, was named as Godparent. It was a day of great celebration.

Professor John has, all of his life, put the Gospel values into practice. He has always been very close to the Lord and has a natural love for all people, but especially his patients. And in turn, his patients love him for the comfort, support and reassurance he provides to them at such a challenging time in their lives.

The Mass started at 11am, with the congregation observing a minute’s silence in memory of those tragically killed in Manchester.

The Entrance Hymn “Come, Holy Ghost, Creator, come” followed, with the singing led by Sister Margaret McGrath and Mr Stephen McGinley accompanying on the organ.

The first reading was from the Prophet Ezekiel and was read beautifully by Professor Welsh. Sister Margaret then sung the Responsorial Psalm – “My Soul is Filled with Joy”.

The second reading by Kate Nelson was from the letter of St Paul to the Ephesians, and spoke of “There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all, and works through all, and is in all”.

The Holy Gospel according to Mark was read by Father Frank Wilson – “Jesus was baptised by John in the Jordan. Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptised in the Jordan by John. Immediately on coming up out of the water he saw the sky rent in two and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. Then a voice came from the heavens:
“You are my beloved Son. On you my favour rests.”

In his Homily, Father Wilson stated “We gather on this happy and joyous day—the Feast of the Ascension, forty days after the Resurrection, the day when Jesus rose to heaven. This is a memorable day that almost exceeds the Ascension, for one of the most gentle, charming, and above all caring men you could ever expect to meet. Professor John Welsh will be receiving the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Anointing; and be joyfully welcomed into the Church.
In today’s Gospel we hear of Jesus’ Baptism by John the Baptist in the Jordan. John’s Baptism was baptism of water, of a mere cleansing, whereas Jesus would baptise with water and the Holy Spirit conveying the love of God and forgiveness.
When Jesus was baptised, the Father spoke and said “you are my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on you” When Professor John is baptised the Father will say over him, “You are my son, the beloved; my favour rests with you” Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit in the Jordan, and John will be anointed with the healing Oil of Salvation, and like Jesus he will receive the Holy Spirit when he is anointed with the Chrism, blessed by the Archbishop on Maundy Thursday.
And to complete his initiation, John will receive the body and blood of Christ in the Sacrament of Holy Communion.
Professor John has been close to the Lord in his entire life, for he has a natural love for all people, especially those who are ill and worrying about death, realising there is no hope for recovery. He has a genuine interest in all his patients, having highly sensitive feelings for every patient, their symptoms, but also their emotional overlay; their anxieties about their families.
He has the gift of raising the patients’ spirits with an understanding of their spiritual anxiety and distress, their fear of dying and of the afterlife. His professional approach is with a quiet reassuring touch and an instinctive knowing of the love of God for all people. The Lord may say this day, “You are indeed my beloved son.”
May we wish Professor John, his beloved wife Sheila, and his children Stewart and Catherine every blessing in the years that lie ahead.

Following prayers, the Professor was then anointed with the Oil of the Catechumens before Canon Tartaglia formally blessed the water. The Professor then Renounced his Sin and Professed his Faith before being formally Baptised. Sister Rita then placed the white garment on Professor John. This was a very moving part of the service symbolising the protection and care of Professor John and he being wrapped in the love of God. Sister Rita then lit the Baptismal Candle from the Easter Candle and presented it to John.

With special permission from Archbishop Tartaglia, Professor John was also Confirmed and received his First Holy Communion.

The Communion hymns were “I will never forget you my people” and “This is holy ground”.

After the final Blessing and the Recessional Hymn “Let there be love shared among us”, Sr Margaret sang the Blessing of St Francis of Assisi – a favourite of Professor Welsh.

May the Lord bless you and may the Lord keep you show His face to you and have mercy on you; turn His countenance to you and give His peace to you, may the Lord bless you wherever you go.

Where there is darkness His light is shining; where there is sadness He is true joy; when you are injured He brings you pardon, and should you doubt him, He has faith in you.

Following Mass, everyone gathered to congratulate Professor Welsh, and we all enjoyed tea and a light buffet in the Education Centre. Professor Welsh then cut his cake and shared it among the many people who were so pleased to be part of his very special day.


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