Rev. Bernard Oats

Rev. Bernard Oats

1954              Ordained Carlow for Motherwell Diocese

1954              St. Augustine’s Coatbridge

1954-1958     St. Columbkille’s Rutherglen

1958-1965     St. Augustine’s Coatbridge

1965-1973     St. Benedict’s Easterhouse

1973-1988     St. Peter’s Hamilton

1988               31 July died Glasgow aged 61

 Rev. Bernard M. Oates-31st July, 1988

CD 1989 p 410

Bernard Michael Oates was born in Ballyoughter, Elphin, Co. Roscommon, Ireland the elder son of Patrick and Catherine Oates. After his early education, he received his secondary education in St. Mary’s College, Summerhill, Sligo in the company of many others who were to serve God in the priesthood. He studied for the priesthood in St. Patrick’s College, Carlow, and was one of a class of thirty-four ordained priests in the Cathedral of the Assumption, Carlow, 6th June, 1954.

The day of his ordination and first Mass were days of both joy and sadness—joy in being a priest but sadness because his mother was dying and unable to join him in the celebrations. His mother died on 18th June, 1954, an event that was to have lasting influence on Barney during his life.

He arrived in Scotland in August and, strange to relate today, “there was no room for him”. He was lodged in Govan for a few weeks before a temporary appointment was found for him in St. Augustine’s, Coatbridge. After a few months he was appointed to St. Columbkille’s, Rutherglen, then in 1958 he returned to St. Augustine’s; in 1965 he was transferred to St. Benedict’s, Easterhouse. In September 1973 he received his appointment as parish priest in St. Peter’s, Hamilton. In all these parishes “the big man” showed himself to be big in every way: big in kindness, big in charity, big in his concern for the young but, above all else, big in his love and care for the sick and dying, and a jealous concern for the priesthood exemplified in his love for the company of his fellow priests and his unselfish care for them in times of illness.

It was in St. Peter’s that he found a gift that no one ever thought he possessed, least of all himself. On his arrival at St. Peter’s he was very happy with everything he found there but within a short time he realised that the temporary church, built in 1954, was deteriorating. In 1979 he got permission from Bishop Thomson to build a new permanent church, a difficult task compounded by the lack of ground space which meant first demolishing the existing building and then erecting a new structure on the same site. In 1981 he was joined by a happy and proud group of parishioners at the Solemn Opening of the New Church of St. Peter. For many this would have been a job well done but not for Barney. He was determined with the help of his assistant priests and parishioners to establish a truly Christian community in the area, which became only too evident in the people’s attendance at Mass and other devotions in their new church. For a man not known for his thrift it came as a surprise to many that St. Peter’s, Hamilton was cleared of a substantial debt at the end of 1987; as he said at the time “they are great people…”, typical of the man—it was to their credit not his!

These “great people” were stunned on Friday 22nd of July to hear that their parish priest had been admitted to the Victoria Infirmary, Glasgow with a cerebral stroke, and they were to fill their church every evening for Mass to pray for his recovery. He never regained consciousness and, surrounded by his immediate family, went quietly to his Maker on Sunday, 31st July.

The attendance of Bishop Devine, clergy and people at the Requiem Mass on Wednesday, 3rd August, exemplified their respect for their dead priest. During the Mass reference was made to his great love of Our Lady and of his unselfish care for the sick and dying; and there were lighter moments when Barney was described as a prince of the roads and the sky—we all admired his love for fast cars and his skill as a pilot, and we appreciated the tribute paid to him by his co-pilots when the members of his flying club passed over the cortege at Abbotsinch, dipping their wings.

Following the Mass in St. Peter’s, the cortege was taken to Ireland for the Funeral Mass and burial rites. The following afternoon, Monsignor Gillen, V.G., representing the Bishop and Diocese of Motherwell, was joined by over thirty priests from Scotland, from Summerhill and Carlow Colleges, others from parishes in Elphin Diocese. During this Mass Monsignor Gillen paid tribute to a good priest and expressed the sympathy of all to Father Bernard’s brother Noel and his family. The Mass was followed by his burial beside his mother and father; he had returned home but left many grieving in his Scottish home.

Mary, Mother of priests, pray for him. May he rest in peace.

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Saint Augustine's Church, 12 Dundyvan Road, Langloan,
Coatbridge, ML5 1DQ

Email: office@saintaugustines.org.uk Tel: 01236 423044

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