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Father Tabone retires at the end of November and returned to his Native Malta

Father Tabone will retire at the end of November and return to his native Malta. On Sunday 24th November, Father Tabone's last Sunday in Scotland, a farewell Mass of Thanksgiving, was offered in St. Mary Magdalene's Parish.. Father Tabone concelebrated Mass with our new Archbishop Leo Cushley and his fellow priests in the diocese. Former parishioners from his other charges flocked to take part with special buses bringing well-wishers from Stirling and Broxburn. Visitors came from the surrounding parishes. It goes without saying that his present parishioners turned out en masse and the church struggled to accommodate us all. Everyone was sorry that Father Tabone is going but happy, for him, that he is going home and will have a more leisurely life there - he certainly did not get much leisure time in Scotland.

After a beautiful and cheerful Mass tribute was paid to Father Tabone by Mrs Una Gallacher, Chair of our Parish Pastoral Council. Her speech is printed below.

  Flag of Malta

Your Grace, Reverend Fathers, Ladies and Gentlemen. For those of you who don´t know me, my name is Una Gallagher, and I am the chair of St Mary Magdalene´s Parish Pastoral Council.

I´ve been asked to say a few words. I think what I have to say could be condensed into 2 words. Some of you may think those words should be "Don´t go" but they are in fact "Thank you". We have called this a Mass of Thanksgiving, not because we were thankful you are going, Father Tabone, but because we wanted to say thank you, to you and to God, for all you´ve done in your Ministry in Scotland these last 37 years. You began your priestly ministry as a missionary in Africa then came, some might say as a missionary, to Scotland. We are very grateful that you did so. Africa´s loss has been Scotland´s gain I think it´s a testament to your many gifts, in particular to your ability to reach out to people and to engender and inspire loyalty and love, that today we welcome so many from all your former parishes: from St Columba´s in Edinburgh, from St John Cantius, Broxburn, from Sacred Heart, Cowie, St Mary´s Stirling, and St David´s, Dalkeith. We also welcome people from our local churches and schools, from St John´s, where you are currently the administrator, and from our other sister parishes.

As well as your parish work, you have worked as a hospital and university chaplain and chaplain to HCPT. You have even spent time in prison in Scotland. I have to emphasise that this was as chaplain - to Cornton Vale Women´s Prison- not as an inmate! In all of these places you have made a lasting impact on the lives of the people you met. One of the things which struck me when you came here, Father Tabone, was the number of people from your previous parishes who came here to visit you, and who still come. I´m willing to bet that that will continue when you return to Gozo. I am quite sure air traffic to Malta will be on the increase, so I was thinking this might be a good time for us all to take shares in Ryanair.

Here in St Mary Magdalene´s I think it is no exaggeration to say that you have given new life to this parish. You have regenerated the parish in the two years that you have been here. You have brought in more people, in particular families with children; we now have many more children for our children´s liturgy, and more people involved in the Parish Council, and in other activities in the parish. We have also had the great pleasure of your sermons to the children at our children´s masses. You have a wonderful ability to engage with the children; you are very inventive in the use of props, (I think of the bicycle wheel which we found behind the altar the other day), and you are never fazed by the children´s answers to your questions, no matter how off the wall they are! You have changed the atmosphere here in St Mary Magdalene´s; people now say "there is a buzz about the place" and a renewed sense of purpose.

When I was preparing this talk I took note of some of the things people have said about you, Father Tabone : You are "the best thing since sliced bread"(I think that came from Broxburn!) But on a serious note, people have said you are "such a good man" you are "such a good priest" you "live very simply"; you "practice what you preach" you "lead by example". And most importantly "you reach out to people, especially the poor and the sick."

And of course everyone I spoke to mentioned your sense of humour, (which has been evident today), and which is a gift that fosters a real sense of community. People always leave this church, and I´m sure all your previous churches, with a smile on their faces I think there will be fewer smiles today.

We are very sad to lose you, but we are very pleased for you. We are pleased that you are now going home to your own family, and to your own people.

Father Tabone, we have loved having you here. We thank you for your faith and for the love you have shown us. We thank you for all that you have done as a priest here in Scotland. We wish you well and we hope you will come back to see us. I will end as I started, with those two words. Father Tabone, Thank you

As a mark of our appreciation we have a few gifts, which some of our children will now bring up.

Church in Malta

Something of Interest From Malta

Tiny Church of St. Mary Magdalen in Malta

This tiny church is built on the highest point of the DINGLI CLIFFS which, in turn, are the highest point on Malta. The church is dedicated to St. Mary Magdalen. Should Father Tabone ever forget about Scotland and us (though we are unlikely to allow that to happen) that little chapel on his homeland, will surely remind him. Please take time to read the history of that chapel on the notice below.

Dingli is a small village at the extreme end of Malta, quite remote from the centre. The distance was felt even more up to ten or twenty years ago when public transport could only reach up to Rabat. To arrive at Dingli one had to make the journey either on foot or by means of a rough ride on a farmer´s cart. Up to sixty years ago there was no telephone service for the private family. Nowadays it is considered essential for every household to have the facility of this service. It was then considered difficult to travel to other localities of Malta. Even nowadays almost everyone feels the need of his private means of transport.

If we glance far away through the ages, and precisely towards the beginning of civilization in Malta, we can notice, that notwithstanding the extreme poverty which depressed the whole of Malta, Dingli had the benefit of being situated near Rabat. In fact, from olden times up to the middle ages, the centre of Malta was not Valletta but first Rabat and then Mdina. The present capital city was built from scratch only during the second half of the sixteenth century.

The Popular Council which governed the Island had its headquarters in Rabat. Dingli for many centuries was part and parcel of the civil administration of both Rabat and Mdina. Dingli had the same representatives, the same mayor and the same doctor. Only with great difficulty, could one find a priest who was willing to accept to live at Dingli or at Hal Tartarni a place which historical sources have always confirmed the intimate connection with Dingli.

But, when the Maltese Church initiated the process of dividing the Island into parishes, not only in the cities but also in the rural zones, the small locality of Hal Tartarni could not be overlooked and someone had to be found to shoulder the responsibility of the spiritual aspect of the people, thus making this small village one of the first parishes ever in Malta. Hal Tartarni, which was the only inhabited area, was in the vicinity of the small forest created by Grand Master Verdala towards the end of the fifteenth century. There was a very small church dedicated to Saint Domenica, which today does not exist any longer. Just before the year 1436, this church was elevated to the dignity of a parish.

  History of this Chapel

And then, after various ups and downs, which from a historical point of view cannot be clearly verified, all the population moved towards that zone called Dingli. This can be assumed to have resulted from the fact that the noble family Inguanez possessed vast territories of land in that zone. The farmers employed to work the fields of the Inguanez family found it convenient to go to Dingli, thus abandoning completely Tartarni. This period can be said to represent the origin of this delicious village, noted for its pure and uncontaminated air.

But if we look further back, we note that this village existed and was populated way back to remote times. We can reach as far back as prehistoric times, and after much hesitation and reflection, today the archaeologists lead us to conclude that quite probably there were certain quarries from where stone could be hewn to construct rural abodes in various parts of the Island.

Suffice it to say that archaeology leads us as far back to the times of the Phoenicians and the Carthaginians. Graves dug out of the rocks were found and it can be assumed that cremation of corpses was already in existence. According to the custom of those times, before burial, wicks and various articles of earthenware and ornamental goods were placed inside the grave. From what was found, the objects certainly go back to the Carthaginian period. These can be said to go back to almost 2800 years ago.

The Phoenician and Carthaginian tombs were also used by the Romans, who occupied our islands way back to 218 before Christ. At Dingli there is no clear distinction between one period and another. At Ghajn Handful, baths, swimming pools and some instruments of the Roman period were discovered. Even at the locality known as Ta´ Baldu, an area lying not far away from Triq Misrah Suffara, is rightly known for its Roman baths hewn inside caves. hewn inside caves.

The scarce historical information available about Hal Tartarni gives some ray of light on the periods when we were under the Norman, Byzantine, Angevine and Aragonese rule. In those times, the Popular Council, with its offices at Rabat, had the full authority to govern over both Dingli and Hal Tartarni. Justice was meted out by Capitano della Verga. At the beginning of the reign of the Knights of St John, the population of these villages did not exceed three hundred inhabitants. The name of ´Dingli´ was probably derived from the surname of some Maltese families who owned the land in this area.

Dingli is a locality near the sea and is full of cultivated fields, but at the same time stands imposingly very high above the sea. The cliffs reach a height of around 300 metres the highest place in Malta. Thus the inhabitants do not earn their living by going fishing, but by assiduously tilling their fields. Even if they never became very rich, at least they could earn their living by means of husbandry and also from the produce of the fields.

The Dingli Cliffs, in harder times than at present, were also sometimes beneficial. Century´s age, Malta was frequently devastated by sea pirates who wreaked havoc everywhere. Many people were robbed, carried away as slaves, or killed straight away. For several centuries life it was no longer possible to live in the Island.

Then, in the year 1530, Emperor Charles V bestowed Malta to the Knights of St John as a feud. The pirates besieged and took over Gozo in 1551, but were not content with their victory and so directed their attention towards Malta. Espionage existed even at that time. Just before launching a great siege on the island of Malta, the Turks sent to Malta in great secrecy a spy by the name of Piri Reis in order to explore well our Island. Without being noticed by anyone, he went as far as Dingli to see if the Turks could land in this area. When Piri Reis observed the Dingli Cliffs, he quickly concluded that landing in this area is to be absolutely avoided. As a matter of fact, in the great siege of 1565, landing was affected at Marsamxett.

This was only just a glance at Dingli of the past centuries. The inhabitants at that time struggled to survive in a very difficult environment. The sole pride that distinguished the inhabitants of Dingli was their devotion to the parish church dedicated to the Assumption of the Holy Virgin. But the dignity of the recognition of the Parish was suppressed several times. Afterwards, in 1678, the village had the satisfaction of having an established Parish Church with its own Parish Priest, and from then better times were in the offing.

Dingli is now a picturesque village looking towards the future with confidence. There is now a sense of well-being, which could not be envisaged in the not too-distant past. The population has increased in number fifteen-fold since centuries ago. Statistics reveal that a century ago, it was difficult to send children to school. The boys used to work in the fields. The girls, from a tender age, helped in the domestic work. On the contrary, nowadays, everyone goes to school, not only to the primary but also to the secondary schools. There are also others who continue their studies at the Malta University from where the best even attain a doctorate in their field of study.

Dingli is the birthplace of many eminent personalities who have honoured not only the village but also the entire Maltese Islands. In the literary field, one can mention renowned authors like folklore pioneer Dun Xand Cortis and playwright Francis Ebejer. The Catholic Church was blessed with the Dominican friar Walter Ebejer, who was ordained Bishop of a diocese in Brazil. In the political field, Notary Guze´ Abela was an outstanding minister of finance, who was widely respected for his sound judgment and above all for his integrity.

Info from https://dingli.gov.mt/

St Mary Magdalenes
Pat and Mary Celebrate 50 Years of Marriage

On Sunday 6th July 2003 Pat McInally was presented with with the Archdiocesan Medal and Scroll in recognition of his long and faithful service to St. Mary Magdalenes Parish . This was a partcularly special week-end for the McInally family as Pat and his wife Mary celebratted their Golden Wedding Anniversary on Friday 4th July.

In introducing the presentation ceremony at the end of Mass Father Tom Hennessey, our Parish Priest, made the following address:- On 4th July 1953 Pat and Mary were married in Our Lady and St. Mary's Church, Bathgate. A young Fr. Tom Hanlon, Mary's cousin, officiated at their nuptial Mass, and he was there last Friday to celebrate Mass with Pat and Mary on their 50th. Wedding Anniversary. It is a marriage truly blessed with four sons and four daughhter, and I think Pat has lost count of the number of grandchildren.

Pat and Mary arrived in Bingham in 1965 just when the building of the church had begun. From that time on Pat was a "living stone" of God´s House actively involved in Parish Council, working closely with the late Canon Lawrence Glancey and the late Tom Urquhart, attending numerous meetings, offering support to the priests, in addition to caring for his growing family. He was eventually commissioned as a Minister of Eucharist, bringing Holy Communion to the sick and the housebound as well as giving the sacrament at Mass He has served Sunday and weekday Masses for many years and instructed boys and girls in serving on the Altar.

Mary and his family are Pat's pride and joy and they are proud of him as is his parish community. Of this church he has been a faithful servant for almost 40 years. His witness to Christ and this community of Faith has been strong and unwavering, in living out the Sacrament of Confirmation to the full. He has been an exemplary Catholic layman - genuinely devout and conscientious in fulfilling duties which have been the product of an ardent faith. The seed sown on good ground has indeed yielded the fruits.

Pat, we the thank you for all your services. We are very pleased that you are to receive this medal from the Archbishop, it is so well deserved

The picture appeared on Pat's Memorial Card for his Requiem Mass in March 2009. Some of Pat's favourite hymns.

Sung at his Mass

"I the Lord of Sea and Sky
O Lord my God
Our God Reigns
I watch the sunrise
Bind us together"

St Mary Magdalenes

Father Hennessy Retires

On Friday 8th May Father Hennessy celebrated his Golden Jubilee with members of his family, his fellow priests, his friends and his parishioners. The evening started with Mass at which the other priests concelebrated Mass with Father Hennessy. Father Henesy, from St. Patrick´s parish gave the homily. Laura Tweedie, on behalf of the Parish, presented Father with a cheque for the sum of £1080. Refreshments were served in the hall after Mass and the evening proved to be a most enjoyable occasion

Father Hennessy, after 21 years as Parish Priest of St. Mary Magdalene´s, will retire officially on Wednesday the 31st of this month. However it will not be complete retirement as, on the 1st of September, he will become the resident Chaplain for St. Joseph´s Home "run by the Little Sister of the Poor" in Gilmore Place, Edinburgh. While we are very sorry to see him go we are also aware that, for him, this is in his best interests. He will be released from the responsibilities of running a parish yet will still have an important Ministry. Also since he has had some health problems lately, in St. Joseph´s, he will have people to look after him. We wish him well.

Today Sunday 28th August was therefore the last Sunday that Father Hennesy would celebrate Mass as our Parish Priest. Father Hennessy does not like a fuss and does not enjoy the limelight so it took some gentle persuasion on the part of the Parish Council to get him to agree to a very low-key send -off in the Hall after Mass.

  Before the start of mass
St Mary Magdalenes

Report in the Catholic Observer

Father Hennessy´s has given 21 years of dedicated and loyal service,in St mary magdalene´s Parish For all of Father Hennessy´s 52 years of service in this Diocese of St Andrew´s and Edinburgh he showed the same dedication annd care for his parishioners. Father Hennessy´s years of service greatly exceeded what wuld be expected in any other profession and with that in mind we are delighted that now he can take things more easily. We wish him many years of happy retirement.

After Mass a presentation was made, presented by the children of the parish on behalf of the parishioners and the children and staff of the local primary school St. John´s of which Father Hennessy has been the chaplain for all these 21 years. The Head and Deputy Hean and two members of staff of St. John´s school attended this Mass with us. The Chair of the Parish Council, Mrs Una Gallagher, thanked Father Hennessy on behalf of all of us and expressed our regret that he had to go and she assured him that he would not be forgotten. We then all retired to the Hall for the final celebration

Thanks after the presentation

Inscription reads "AD MULTOS ANNOS"

Now as the farewells have been said and Father Hennessy leaves with some regrets but also with feelings of excitement annd hopes for the next stage of his life, we, his Parishioners must do likewise and look forward to the arrival of our new Parish Priest, Father Tabone.

Father Tabone is a priest of this diocese but for the past few years has been serving in Malta on compassionate grounds. He will take up residence in the parish house on Friday 2nd September and Sunday 4th of September will be his first Sunday here and the beginning of a new relationship for all of us. We are blessed that we have been given a resident priest and we will do all we can to make him welcome and together I am sure we will keep alive the traditions of St. Mary Magdalene's Parish.

Father Hennessy says he has been happy here and we hope Father Tabone will be so too. You are very welcome, Father!

  St Mary Magdalenes 



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