I GREATLY enjoyed Brian Beacom’s article ("Rise in priest numbers triggers memories of community", The Herald, August 10). It acted as a "trigger" for memories of my own.

As a seven-year-old, I was deposited in a heart hospital in Lancashire run by a group of Irish Catholic nuns. I think that I was supposed not to have a good time and to be homesick. On the contrary, I had a marvellous time and was made well enough to leave after a year. I did not want to leave those lovely nuns.

These were nuns who climbed trees, showing their navy bloomers; nuns who taught us how to do sums and spell some very odd words; nuns who nursed us so tenderly but made us eat the awful spaghetti pie; nuns who let me, a non-Catholic, polish the confessionals and arrange the flowers in the chapel; nuns who had a quiet dignity too.

Loading article content

There was the priest who would come to hear confession which I could not make, being raised in the Welsh chapel. I could carry a candle in the Easter service which more than made up for it. And what a priest he was.

I don’t remember there being any of the colourful language that Brian Beacom heard but this priest, to the sound of his guitar, taught us why guinea-pigs couldn’t wag their tails, never to trust a crocodile and lots of other vital information for our survival. And what a Father Christmas he made; not that we knew.

There was the Irish lassie who cleaned the dust from under the beds and put me right on the fact that staring at the dots at the top of St Bridget’s nose, for a count of 100, would not bring the saint out of the postcard on which she was portrayed to perform a miracle for me.

There was a kind of miracle made for me though, through loving and healing care.

Thankyou, Brian Beacom, for writing about the priest you knew as a child and who, in his own special way, was probably something of a miracle worker. Those people were the real heroes and heroines of our communities. There are still many of them about.

Thelma Edwards,

Old Comrades Hall,

Hume,

Kelso.

I ENJOYED thoroughly the article by Brian Beacom and smiled as he shared the stories of good men who also happened to be priests.

As Catholics we have had much to reflect on during the past decade or so as we read about the abuse of authority of so-called men of God on the vulnerable from Boston to Brisbane and lots more in between.

For sure, the Church and its members have been badly served by a small minority of people who have taken advantage of their position of power and authority for their own evil ends.

However, there are others; lots of others who have served their faith community with love and selflessness. I would like to pay tribute to those who have served and continue to do so with fidelity and humility. And those who engaged healthily with us when we were young, providing leadership and laughter, faith and fun.

Roddy MacDonald,

1 Glenmount Place,

Ayr.