This page lays out the priorities of the new parish of Our Lady & St Andrew into which the parishes of St Cuthbert's, Melrose and Our Lady & St Joseph's, Selkirk were merged on 23 December 2018.
Find below the statement given by Fr Nick on his vision for the new parish's future.
Today marks the beginning of a new parish set-up in the Central Borders, where the
three parishes of St Cuthbert’s, Melrose, Our Lady & St Joseph’s, Selkirk and Our
Lady & St Andrew’s, Galashiels, become one parish, the parish of Our Lady & St
This merging of the three parishes, if we are honest, is because of a decline - a decline
in numbers of practicing Catholics, a decline in the number of baptisms, a decline in
the number of marriages, a decline in the numbers of priests. At this stage, we have
two options; we accept the continued decline as inevitable and we continue to come
to Mass, put our money in the plate and say our prayers. Taking this option, I am
convinced, would mean that this merger would be the first of many mergers which
would eventually lead to the closure of churches and a weakening of the Catholic
Faith in this part of the country.
The other option is that we look at ourselves as this new community which has an
opportunity to grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe,
so that we can grow this new community into something which attracts others to
follow Jesus Christ and which does not accept that continued decline is inevitable.
I would prefer that we adopt the second option.
The second option requires, of course, so much more of us. I am willing to work for
it, as I am sure many of you are, too. If we adopt the second option, I would envisage
this parish as having the following priorities, not necessarily in this order:
- Adult formation – that we, as adults, open ourselves up to being challenged in
our relationship with Jesus Christ. To do this we need to get to know who he
is, and to this end, I would like to offer courses throughout the year to help us
get to know him better.
- Spiritual formation – that we are called to a relationship with Jesus Christ,
which means that we must be people who pray, people who speak to and listen
to God. I would envisage this parish as being a noticeably praying community.
- Children’s/youth formation – we must introduce our young people to Jesus in
a way which will attract them to maintain that relationship throughout their
lives so that they can actively discern their vocation. Youth groups tailored to
age groups would be a priority for me in this community.
- Mission – we must be a missionary parish. We will not grow if we do not take
the Gospel beyond these walls. I would like this parish to be a community
which actively discerns how we might engage those in our area and bring them
to know Jesus Christ. I would also like this parish to be a community which
recognises its place in the universal Church and to discern how we might
contribute to the more ‘traditional’ missionary territories, sharing with those
less fortunate that ourselves.
- A force for the good – this parish should be actively engaged in the local
community, responding to its needs and being a shining example of Christian
- Social – that we gather together socially to get to know each other and enjoy
each other’s company. Without a social aspect, we are merely people who
come to the same church rather than a community.
- Sustainable – we need to consider how we maintain this community
financially in line with the considerable cost of maintaining a number of
properties, some of which are very old.
This is the vision that I have for this new parish; a parish whose people know Jesus
Christ through prayer and study; whose children are given the tools to do the same;
whose people looks beyond the community in which they find themselves; a
community which is a force for good in this area; a community which spends time
with each other socially; a community which is financially responsible.
What is God asking me to give to this?
This vision is not exhaustive, it is not set in stone, it is something which can be
tweaked, added to and taken from as circumstances dictate. But I think, overall, it is
something which we can all agree would be good for this parish as we move forward.
To achieve anything like this, I need your help. We need a strong parish council who
will buy into the vision and help make it a reality. We need people to really discern
how it is that they might contribute to this vision. We need a finance council that will
help us to see what is possible financially. Above all, we need people praying for the
success of this endeavour, which will be no small feat.
The time frame for getting things going is loose. I envision that after Easter, we will
be in a position to erect a parish council, whose task will be to help me prioritise,
make better and make a reality these ideas. At the same time, I would like to be in a
position to erect a finance council.
In the meantime, I would like to ask you to prayerfully consider what God might be
asking of you as we enter this new phase in the life of the Church in the Borders.
What is God asking me to give to this? Not all of us are able to ‘do’ things, but all of
us are able to pray for the success of this new community. I am looking forward to
this challenge, I am up for it, and I hope that you will join me in taking it on.