The R C Diocese of Galloway is a resistered charity in Scotland SC010576.
The ordination of Bishop William Nolan as the new Roman Catholic Bishop of Galloway took place on Saturday 14 February 2015 in the Grand Hall, Kilmarnock. Over 900 people were present in the hall, together with a crowd of around 300 who participated in the ceremony via a video link to the Kay Park Church which is situated nearby.
The Mass of Ordination was celebrated by Archbishop Leo Cushley, the Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, together with Archbishop Antonio Mennini, the Apostolic Nuncio representing Pope Francis, together with bishops from across Scotland, England and Ireland. There were also over 100 priests concelebrating the Mass, including many from Bishop Nolan’s previous Diocese of Motherwell.
The congregation was made up of parishioners from parishes throughout the Diocese of Galloway, as well as various civic dignitaries, including Members of Parliament, Members of the Scottish Parliament, officials from East Ayrshire Council, North Ayrshire Council, South Ayrshire Council, and Dumfries and Galloway Council. In addition there were representatives from the other religious denominations including Bishop Gregor Duncan, the Bishop of the Scottish Episcopal Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway. A large number of people from Bishop Nolan’s former parish in East Kilbride made the journey to celebrate the occasion with him, as well as many members of his family.
In a celebration that lasted over two hours, there were a number of symbolic acts which communicated and expressed deep religious truths. Not least of these was the ancient rite of the laying on of hands. This is the traditional symbol of handing on the gift of the Holy Spirit, and is a central part of any ordination rite. In other rituals acts Bishop Nolan received the symbols of a bishop: the pectoral cross, the mitre, the ring, and the bishop’s pastoral staff.
The atmosphere during the Mass was one of great celebration, and the music was described by many in the congregation as “uplifting and inspiring”. Great care had been taken to transform the Grand Hall into a venue suitable for such an occasion, and this had certainly been achieved.
In his homily, Archbishop Cushley spoke of the qualities required of a bishop in the Church today, and spoke of leadership as being one of service. At the end of the ceremony, Bishop Nolan spoke movingly, and with great humour, of the task which now lies ahead of him, and of his desire to work collaboratively with the priests and the people of the diocese. He is very conscious of the geography of the diocese, which covers the whole of Dumfries and Galloway and Ayrshire, and how he will have to get used to traveling some unfamiliar distances as he fulfils his pastoral responsibility to his new flock. He highlighted for the congregation that the ring he had been given was one that his father had received when he married his mother, but that being a mechanic, he had never worn it. Bishop Nolan has had it reshaped and inscribed with an image of the cross from Kirkmadrine, one of the ancient crosses which can still be found in the south of the diocese.
Many people had obviously spent numerous hours in preparation for the ordination Mass, and that it flowed so smoothly was thanks in no small way to the scores of helpers and volunteers. These included school children from the four Catholic secondary schools in the diocese, local scout groups, and members of the St Vincent de Paul Society, who had come from various parishes.
Following his ordination, Bishop Nolan will now begin to meet individually with the priests of the Diocese, and so start the process of making himself aware of the different pastoral situations which he must face. The bishop said in his concluding remarks that he has no plan for Galloway Diocese, but he does have a purpose.