The Orchard Kilgraston Closing Mass




At the close of Mass on that day Barbara concluded with a blessing from:“Circle of Grace” Jan Richardson

In the leaving,

in the letting go,

let there be this

to hold on to at the last:


the enduring of love,

the persisting of hope,

the remembering of joy,


the offering of gratitude,

the receiving of grace,

the blessing of peace. 


This is surely a tribute to all who have benefitted from the sacred space of Kilgraston and the dedication of rscj during the years of service to the faith life of those who spent time there.

barbara gallery1

Mass was con-celebrated by Bishop Robson, Bishop of Dunkeld, Monsignor Henry, Monsignor Drysdale, and  Father McAinsh, Provincial of the Redemptorists


“As we gathered at the Orchard to pray on the moment of the closing of The Spirituality Centre I was filled with gratitude and sadness that manifested itself in tears.  Gratitude for so much: provision of a space, for many to take time, to see where God was in our lives; gratitude for the perseverance of Barbara Farquharson in providing the place and the space along with the accompaniment over many years.  And yes Barbara had been joined by a few others who also contributed greatly to the ministry but the initiative and the commitment to keep it going is something  for which to be very grateful  as also for the financial resources provided by the Society to enhance and create the physical space  on what already existed.  Tears of sadness, perhaps, at the speed with which the closure came and at the loss of such an abundant instrument of God's presence for so many over the years. Take Lord Receive.”

Christine Triay rscj

6th June 2017

About fifty guests arrived for the gathering to mark the closure of Garden Cottage Spirituality Centre on 6th June.   It was a miserable day outside the rain was relentless and there was a mist covering the hills, even so everything in the garden looked fresh, green and beautiful. 

 “Endings are a time of gratitude and savouring of gifts received, a time of sadness in letting go and parting, and a time of looking forward with hope and courage as each of us in our own way journeys onwards towards new frontiers.”     Carmel welcomed everybody with these words.  She went on to quote from Daniel Berrigan SJ “What’s giving you hope these days?”  She invited all present to reflect for a few minutes and then share with whoever was beside them, creating an energetic buzz in the room  There followed a reading from the second letter of Timothy:

“I remind you to fan into flame and keep ablaze the gift you have received, so that you may know the hope to which you have been called.   For yours is not a spirit of timidity and fear, but of power and love and mindfulness.” (2 Tim 1:6)

In this spirit of deep gratitude and rejoicing in our shared hope she handed over to Barbara Farquharson.

Barbara Farquharson, who had the initial dream, gave a brief history of Garden Cottage Spirituality Centre which opened in 1997 to receive retreatants and directees, remembering Maggie Adams and Clare Wardhaugh; The Orchard and Apple House opened in 2003; and a few years later the Bothy was developed as a community house for Carmel Byrne and Mary Roe.   Later Deirdre O’Brien was to come for a short while.  A special mention was given to Jim Woods, who was present.   He was the architect who made the dream come true.

“I think I can say that the Centre has been a place of beauty, healing, peace and nourishment for many. Together, the three buildings, the Cottage, the Orchard and the Apple House have formed a sacred space, a place for silence, prayer and for contemplating the experience of God in life.


The focal point of the Centre has been the holistic spiritual development of the individual and so we have offered a wide variety of courses, retreats and workshops.  Over the years too we have appreciated the presence of our guest presenters who added colour interest and diversity in so many ways, to the Orchard programme.


An aspect of our ministry which has particularly delighted me over the years has been the fact that so many people from different Christian churches, different religions and different backgrounds have felt very much at home and welcomed.  So much of what has been offered has been wonderfully appreciated by so many.  Indeed, Carmel and I have been overwhelmed by the number of cards and letters we have received recently, filled with sadness that the Centre is closing, but also full of gratitude for what has been given and received over the years.”


Edited from papers given by

Carmel Byrne rscj and Barbara Farquharson rscj



---------- More photos to be seen in the Gallery ----------


Masterpiece A Big Attraction in Aberdeenshire



virgin mary

A Renaissance work of art, once dismissed as being near-worthless went on display to the public recently for two days in Aberdeenshire. Haddo House welcomed people from as far away as Inverness all keen to catch a glimpse of the lost masterpiece called “the Virgin Mary” which has been valued at £20m.

Art experts revealed this painting is probably the work of the 16th century icon Raphael.   Originally dubbed the Haddo Madonna, the art world thought it was done by Innocenzo da Imola.   Ian Jackson a staff member in Haddo House said “We’re absolutely delighted to see so many people taking an interest.   The fact it is a piece of art by Raphael, one of the greatest Renaissance artists, and it is available in a home, as opposed to a museum, is bound to generate great interest.”

showing virginmary

Editor’s note: Among the first visitors to view this work of art were our own community from Aberdeen. Catherine Laughlin and Margaret Pope may be seen in the picture above and Alda Civiera was somewhere around too.

Sent in by Margaret Pope rscj


Margaret MacRory, RSCJ (1862-1931)

Margaret MacRory, rscj

By Mary Shanahan rscj


sr margaretmarory



Margaret MacRory (1862-1931), religious Sister, was born on 18 December 1862 at Ballygawley, Co. Tyrone, Ireland, daughter of Francis MacRory, farmer, and his second wife Rose, née Montague.  Her brother Joseph, older by a year, became a cardinal and primate of all Ireland.  

Margaret had her early schooling with the Sisters of Mercy and from 16 as a boarder at the Convent of the Sacred Heart, Armagh.  She entered the novitiate of the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus at Roehampton, London, in August 1881. Before completing her noviceship she was sent to Le Mans, France, to work in the school of the congregation as an assistant-teacher until recalled briefly to London in 1884.

Margaret arrived in Sydney on 4 November 1885. She taught at the Convent of the Sacred Heart, Rose Bay, in 1886-94 and was professed there on 2 July 1889.  In Melbourne in 1894-1902 she taught at the congregation's boarding school in Burke Road, Malvern, and returned as headmistress to the nearby day school in 1907-10, after spending the intervening years at the new and short-lived school in Bourke Street, Sydney.

This tall, slender and fair Irishwoman was a dynamic teacher who gained the confidence of her students by her love for and interest in each one. In 1910 she was appointed headmistress of Rose Bay and under her guidance the school grew in numbers.  She brought the school curriculum into line with requirements for registration and invited government inspection.  From 1915 the students were prepared for public examinations. She founded an ex-students association in 1912 and by her personal contacts created the strong bonds that still characterize that association.

In 1923 Mother MacRory was chosen to open a house in City Road, Darlington, for Catholic women at the University of Sydney.  Her time there was broken by a call to Rome to attend a retreat for English-speaking superiors of the congregation.  She visited England, Scotland and Ireland where she strengthened her bonds with her brother Joseph, then a bishop, and travelled through the United States of America, inspecting liberal arts colleges run by the congregation.

On her return Mother MacRory was responsible for the building of the residence within the university for Catholic women on part of the land of St John's College.  She established its independence from St John's, whose rector had seen the new foundation as simply an extension of his college. She could not prevent the foundation stone from bearing the inscription 'In honorem St Joannis Evangelistae'—but the new hall, which opened in 1926 with Mother MacRory in charge, became Sancta Sophia.  Under her guidance the number of students increased and a wing of twenty-four rooms was added in 1927.

When in 1929 legislation established Sancta Sophia as a college within the University of Sydney, the council appointed her as its first principal.  She chose the crest of the college with its symbols of truth and wisdom.  Her own wisdom and understanding with her readiness to listen to others and to learn from them tempered her slightly authoritarian nature and won her students' respect and confidence.  

She died of septicaemia on 23 May 1931 at Sancta Sophia and was buried at Rose Bay.  In five years she had established a tradition of scholarship based on Christian values following the motto of her choosing—'Walk in Wisdom'.

 obituary margaretmacrory


This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography Volume 10 (MUP) 1986


Sent by Bernadette McArdle rscj

Scottish Diocese hopes to be a faith refuge

Scottish diocese hopes to be a faith refuge


On the windy promenade of Oban, a western Scottish port, the gray stone façade of a modern cathedral gazes out over a choppy autumnal seascape of distant islands, edged by anchored ships and rocky promontories.  When Brian McGee moved here last February to become the ninth Catholic bishop of Argyll and the Isles, he was struck by the stunning vistas all around him.   Since then, he's journeyed constantly from his base at St. Columba's Cathedral to remote, far-flung parishes, developing ideas for making his diocese a hub for pilgrims and spiritual seekers.   "Catholics are spread very widely here.   Scotland's Catholic Church dates its existence from a mission by St. Ninian in A.D. 397, and has traditionally been strong in the Western Isles, whose main ferry port, Oban, was the obvious choice for a new Catholic See when the church was re-founded in the 19th century.

pictures forfaithrefuge


With just 30 clergy, the diocese includes 144 islands spread over 12,000 square miles. It's considered one of Europe's most scenic areas, as well as one of its least inhabited, with just 10,500 Catholics making up 14 percent of the total population.   Even in the church, there are cultural differences between the firmly rooted parishes of Lochaber and the Outer Hebrides, and the more marginalized communities of traditionally Protestant Argyll and Bute.

McGee's diocese carries prayers and messages in English and Gaelic on its website, as well as stories of its holy patrons -- from the Irish St. Columba, who set up the first monastery in 563 on the tiny island of Iona, to the Australian St. Mary MacKillop (1842-1909), whose Scottish family originated near Inverness.

jean forfaithrefuge


"St. Columba's great gift was in the hospitality he offered everyone, and having only recently re-established a Catholic presence here, we're trying to continue this today," explained Sacred Heart Sister Jean Lawson, who runs the Catholic House of Prayer on Cnoc a' Chalmain, or Hill of the Dove, on Iona.  

"It's a lively time to be a Catholic here now, and it helps to know something ~about the church's history," she said.    "But there's also a deep tranquility here, even when the winds are strong and the rains heavy -- a sense of being close to heaven, ~which frees you to pray and reflect."

If the diocese is based administratively on Oban, its spiritual heart is on Iona,~ where the community founded by St. Columba (521-597) still lives on.   

The monastery endured Dark Age Viking raids, but survived as a center of ~ learning and spirituality, and helped spread the Christian faith to the rest of Britain.   When Protestantism was imposed on Scotland during the 16th-century Reformation, ~ Iona fell derelict and the Catholic Church came close to being eradicated.   

Some Catholic communities survived, largely thanks to their very remoteness, while traditional pilgrim links with Ireland kept local devotions strong.   But it took till the late 19th century for a Catholic Church hierarchy to be re-established in Scotland, and the often brutal Reformation events have left their legacy in clearly defined island loyalties.

Peter Kearney, director of the Scottish church's media office, and a native of Catholic Barra, thinks the Western Isles have their own distinctive spirituality. And though there's still some uneasiness between Catholics and Protestants, attitudes have clearly softened.

Things which are no longer seen in the rest of Britain, such as wayside shrines and statues of the Virgin Mary, are still common here, "Those seeking to get rid of these expressions of Catholic piety faced obvious difficulties getting to inaccessible areas like this. This is why these Catholic traditions remain so strong."

Born at Greenock to Irish parents 51 years ago, McGee agrees it's an exciting time to be Catholic in Scotland, particularly now that interchurch ties are generally better.

Jean Lawson rscj


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