Memorial service in Glasgow for Gerry W Hughes

Eileen Opiolka reflects, with Frances Kelly at the piano in Glasgow University Memorial Chapel (Photo credit Robert Kelly)
Eileen Opiolka reflects, with Frances Kelly at the piano in Glasgow University Memorial Chapel (Photo credit Robert Kelly)

A service was held at the Glasgow University Memorial Chapel on Monday to honour the memory Fr Gerry W Hughes SJ who died last November.  The ecumenical service was organised by the many friends, formers students and colleagues for whom Fr Gerry was such a formative influence.  The congregation was welcomed by Rev Stuart McQuarrie, current Chaplain to Glasgow University.  Fr Willie Slavin led the opening prayer and made introductory remarks noting that Gerry had been a controversial figure but one around whom the students  coalesced as a positive energy for the Church.  Eileen Opiolka (pictured) read from Gerry’s recent works and Fr Brendan Callaghan SJ (who was taught by Fr Gerry at Stonyhurst) gave an appreciation of his life and ministry, reminding  us that he was a “restless pilgrim” and an Colin Douglas “uneasy prophet”.  Dr Anne Buttimer read from Gerry’s writings on peace, and Rev John Harvey read from his work on ecumenism – noting a particular ground breaking project in the Gorbals, led by members of the Iona Community, which had a formative impact on Gerry.  Anne Fahy, Frank McGinley, Kay Caldwell and Sr Isobel Smyth SND all led readings and intercessionary prayers.  The closing prayer (of Sir Francis Drake) and blessing were given by Rev Colin Douglas (pictured right).  Frances Kelly led the music and sang her composition “This day I see” written in memory of Gerry.

The organising group are seeking to establish a memorial fund for Fr Gerry to provide bursaries for students and the unwaged to attend retreats or receive spiritual guidance.  They are organising this in co-operation with the Jesuits in Britain development fund and St Beuno’s Jesuit Spirituality Centre where Gerry was the first to offer individually guided retreats.  Donations can be made on this website.

As they gathered for refreshments in the Turnbull Hall at the Catholic Chaplaincy after the service, there were many reminiscences of forty years before when lifetime friendships and partnerships were made.  Many stories were told and pictures shared of a much loved spiritual guide who had been a huge and positive influence on the students and wider community of Glasgow in the 1960s and 70s.

May he rest in peace.