Flag Day and The Very Reverend Canon Thomas White

Recently St Anthony wrote a very good article called “Keeping the Faith” on Celtic Underground; you can read it here: https://celticunderground.net/keeping-the-faith/  He finished the article by saying that, in the year we celebrate 130 years of Celtic, it would be entirely appropriate that the Parish Priest of St Mary’s should unfurl the League flag at the start of the season.  I thought at the time it was a great idea and this week in particular I am now of a mind that we, as Celtic supporters, should lobby the Club to make this happen.

I accept that they may have some plans in place already, but in light of recent events, I can think of no better way for Celtic to show the importance of the link between Celtic Football Club, St Mary’s, the Calton and the Catholic Faith.

For those who don’t know him, The Very Reverend Canon Thomas White (to give him his full Sunday name) is a powerful, high profile pillar of the community in the east end.  He has recently been appointed as head of the East Deanery in Glasgow and given the title of Canon as a result of this.  After the Mass a few weeks ago in the Cathedral where he was invested as Canon he laid on a “wee do” in McChuills for his parishioners, family and friends; this was courtesy of Nick Stewart, the owner, who is a parishioner at St Mary’s.  Why is this fact important?  Well, not only because the grub was great (lovely curries, pakora etc.) but because the owner of a busy city centre pub was willing to displace his regulars on a busy Friday night to give the pub over to Canon Tom for the evening.  This shows the level of respect he has in the community.

His work mostly goes unseen; he has been Priest and then Parish Priest at St Mary’s for over 12 years and has also taken on responsibility for St Alphonsus Church in the Barras.  He is covering 2 Churches, doing double the work and with no extra help.  Where there were 3 Priest in the Calton, we now only have 1.

For those who have missed all TV, printed and online news this week, Canon Tom was attacked and vilified by followers of the Orange Walk on Saturday 7 July as he was talking to parishioners as they left the Church after the 4:30 Vigil Mass.  He was verbally abused and spat upon (into his eyes on one occasion) and someone tried to assault him with a wooden baton.

In all of this he has not missed a beat in his Ministry and Pastoral support of the 2 parishes and those poor and vulnerable members of the community.  On Fair Friday, as Director of the Archdiocese of Glasgow Pilgrimage, he leads several hundred people, both firm and infirm, to Lourdes.  He epitomises the work the Brother Walfrid formed the Celtic Football Club to undertake.

The whole Calton Community, the Celtic family, leaders of other faiths and politicians of all parties have given their support to Canon Tom.  The Orange Order have also come out and condemned the cowardly attack.  It’s now, in my opinion, time that Celtic Football Club showed their support and invite him to unfurl our 7 in a row flag at the first home league game this season.  It would be a fitting tribute to him and a fantastic way to acknowledge the 130 year old link between St Mary’s and the Club.

In his article on Celtic Underground, St Anthony says: “I am always amused by Celtic supporters who hail from the Calton. As one remarked to me ‘We don’t just support Celtic, we created Celtic.’ And they are justified in feeling proud. Celtic were actually a parish team formed by Brother Walfrid and the parishioners of his church.”

It’s time for Celtic to acknowledge this link yet again and support the Parish Priest of St Mary’s when he, his parishes and the Catholic Faith have been attacked in such a brutal manner.  Come on Celtic, you know it’s the right thing to do!

Keep The Faith!

Frank Sheeran

About Author

The Celtic Star founder and editor, who has edited numerous Celtic books over the past decade or so including several from Lisbon Lions, Willie Wallace, Tommy Gemmell and Jim Craig. Earliest Celtic memories include a win over East Fife at Celtic Park and the 4-1 League Cup loss to Partick Thistle as a 6 year old. Best game? Easy 4-2, 1979 when Ten Men Won the League. Email editor@thecelticstar.co.uk

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