Rev. Michael B. Maher

Rev. Michael B. Maher

Michael Maher was born in Bellshill, Lanarkshire, on 30 September 1912. he received his early schooling in Holy family Primary School, Mossend, St Francis Xavier’s, Carfin and Motherwell Higher Grade (now Our Lady’s High School), before beginning his studies for the priesthood at Blairs College, Aberdeen. In 1932 he entered the major seminary of St Peter’s College, Bearsden but before long he felt that his vocation was to the contemplative life rather than the secular priesthood. Accordingly, in the summer of 1933, he entered the Cistercian Monastery at Mount Melleray in Ireland, where he completed his studies for the priesthood and was ordained in December 1939.

 

For several years it seemed that Michael had found his true vocation in the monastic life, and he entered wholeheartedly into the life of prayer, work and study at Mount Melleray. He found a special joy in the opportunities which the monastic life offered for full participation in the liturgy, and during his years in the monastery his love of the liturgy increased immensely. This love remained with him to the end, and became a source of inspiration to many.

 

“Man proposes, but God disposes”. Some years after ordination, it became clear to Michael’s superiors that the austerities of the Cistercian life were seriously affecting his health, and it was decided that it would be advisable for him to return to Scotland and take up parochial duties for a time. Accordingly, in 1950, he was appointed to a temporary curacy at St Brigid’s, Newmains, and was later transferred to St Charles’, Newton. In his new sphere of priestly activity his health gradually improved and, after consultation with his monastic superiors and the bishop of Motherwell, it was decided that he should remain in parochial work in the diocese.

 

From 1957 until 1965 he served in St Augustine’s, Coatbridge. The zeal with which he threw himself into all parochial activities, the sympathy he showed to all under his care, and the happiness he found in all his priestly duties made it clear that this indeed was the work for which God had been preparing him.

 

In St Augustine’s, and later in St Ignatius’, Wishaw, and St Bride’s, Cambuslang, his priestly enthusiasm, his cheerfulness, his patience and his sheer goodness won the admiration, respect and affection of all who knew him.

 

Through his devoted visitation of the schools and his lively interest in all school activities he became a well known and well loved figure to all the children, while his sympathetic care of the sick, and his readiness to help all in trouble, brought consolation and new hope to many.

 

Father Michael Maher 1912 – 1970

His great love of music, both sacred and secular, led him to take particular interest in school and parish choirs. In this way his own enthusiasm gradually spread, first to the choirs, and through them to the whole congregation in the various parishes in which he served. Choir practices were never looked on as a chore, but as something to be enjoyed, when Father Michael was in charge. Barely a week before his death, he paid a surprise return visit to St Bride’s, Cambuslang, during the children’s choir party. The children were thrilled to see him back among them and asked the choirmaster to allow them to celebrate the occasion by singing one of Father Michael’s favourite pieces, “Panis Angelicus”. Their request was granted, and their delight was increased when Father Michael agreed to act as conductor. In the words of the choirmaster: “They sang like angels”.

 

In December 1969, Father Michael was asked by the bishop to take charge of the joint mission of St Catherine’s. Harthill, and Sacred heart, Salsburgh. On taking up his new applintment he immediately threw himself wholeheartedly into his parochial tasks in his new surroundings. The duplication of all services and the travelling involved in looking after a parish of this type make heavy demands on the priest in charge, but Father Michael had no complaints. His zeal led him to increase rather than lessen the many calls on his time and energy. Unfortunately, in so doing, he overtaxed his strength. On Friday, January 30, 1970, he suffered a severe heart attack and was removed to Bangour Hospital, where, after receiving the Last Rites, he died on the Feast of the purification of Our Lady, February 2. He had been less than two months in his new parish, but the grief of his parishioners on hearing of his death gave ample evidence of the impact he had made on them during his short stay among them.

 

Owing to the limited accommodation in St Catherine’s Church, the funeral Mass was celebrated in Father Michael’s home parish, St Teresa’s, Newarthill, where the packed congregation included many representatives from the various parishes in which he had served. The burial took place in St Patrick’s, Newstevenston.

 

He was a priest indeed: “in whom there was no guile”. May he rest in peace.

Addendum:

Born:

30 September 1912 at 7 South West Park, Pollock Street, Mossend (Holy Family Parish). In 1923 the family moved to Newarthill, at that time part of Carfin parish.

 

Education: Holy Family Primary School St Francis Xavier Primary, Carfin Motherwell RCHG (Our Lady’s High) Blairs 1927-1932 St Peter’s College Bearsden 1932-1933 Mt Melleray 1935-1949(late December)

 

Ordained:

Melleray 10 December 1939 at 6.00 a.m!

In late 1949 Father Michael had fallen into very poor health – very poor appetite, insomnia, general exhaustion – and was sent home to recuperate. Eventually it was decided that he should stay at home and was accepted for Motherwell Diocese by Bishop Douglas.

 

The Ordination:

On the morning of 11 December 1939 Father Michael’s parents received a telegram. It came from Cappoquin, dated 11/12/39, time 10.55 a.m. and read: “Ordained yesterday unexpectedly. Send Blessing, writing, Bernard.” They set off for Cappoquin as soon as possible. The ordaining Prelate was Bishop Colbert, Vicar Apostolic of Port Elizabeth, South Africa, who had just dropped in to the monastery for a passing visit.

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