I join with everyone in the Diocese of Motherwell in congratulating Fr Frank Dougan on being chosen by Pope Francis to be the new Bishop of Galloway. We will pray for him through the coming weeks before his Ordination, and assure him of our continued prayers and support as he settles into his ministry in Galloway. The fact that his mother came from Ayr, and that he enjoyed many visits there in his young days, does make it sound quite appropriate that he should return as Bishop.
It is a great honour to be chosen as a Bishop in the Catholic Church, and with it comes much responsibility and challenges. It is necessary to trust in the presence and inspiration of the Holy Spirit in order to be a Good Shepherd formed in the image and likeness of the Lord. As Shepherd, care of the flock and leading them in the celebration of and practice of our faith is at the heart of the Bishop’s ministry. Fr Frank ministry as Parish Priest in St Mark’s and St Anthony’s, and the other areas of pastoral and administration work he has undertaken in Motherwell Diocese, have prepared him well for the ministry of Bishop. I am sure he is most grateful to all you have accompanied him within his own family, along with parishioners, colleagues and friends.
As a Diocese we are grateful for Fr Frank’s ministry, particularly in the parishes he has served in. We. will miss him, and I am very aware of the gaps which will need to be filled when he leaves! Although there may be some sadness there is gratitude also that he has accepted the call to serve as a Bishop, recognising little opportunity is given to say no, but admiring his willingness to serve the Lord and his Church in the apostolic ministry in these challenging times.
The announcement of Fr Frank’s appointment has been made towards the end of Advent as we focus on the Annuciation of Our Lady and her openness in accepting God’s will in her life whatever that might entail. At the same time she was richly blest, and addressed as “Highly Favoured”. As Bishops we are “highly favoured” also, and with that comes the necessity to respond anew to God’s call and fulfill what is asked of us. In our prayer therefore we seek the intercession of Our Lady, that of the Apostles, and of St Ninian, for Fr Frank as he looks forward to his ministry as Bishop of the Ancient See of Galloway, filled with trust in the Lord and ready to serve Him joyfully.