Want to read more?
We value our content and access to our full site is only available with a subscription. Your subscription entitles you to 7-day-a-week access to our website, plus a full digital copy of that week’s paper to read on your pc/mac or mobile device. In addition, your subscription includes access to digital archive copies from 2006 onwards.
Just want to read one issue? No problem you can subscribe for just one week (or longer if you wish).
Two more residents of Lochaber have been recognised by Pope Francis in recognition of their service to the Holy See, the Catholic Church and society at large.
Entrepreneur and creator of The Highland Cinema in Fort William, Angus MacDonald from Roshven, received a papal knighthood, while Lillian MacDonald, from Arisaig, received the Benemerenti Medal.
These latest awards follow just weeks after sisters, Isa Henderson and Mae MacDonald, also received Benemerenti Medals from Bishop Brian McGee, Diocese of Argyll and the Isles, for their services to the church in Morar and Mallaig.
Ahead of the latest presentations, Bishop McGee celebrated Mass at St Mary’s in Arisaig and paid tribute to Lilian’s and Angus’ contributions to the church and the wider community.
As well as members of the recipients’ families, guests included Rev Stewart Goudie, Councillor Allan Henderson, local community councillors and parishioners.
People also joined in with the ceremony via a live-stream broadcast online to help make the day extra special.
Bishop McGee told the Lochaber Times: ‘The Catholic communities in the Rough Bounds are small but it is lovely to see Pope Francis recognising what good people are doing in the area.
‘Lilian MacDonald received the Benemerenti Medal in recognition of her care of young people in her long teaching career – especially in Lochaber – as well as her dedication and service to the local church, enriching the liturgy by her singing and her organisational skills on the Parish Pastoral Council, Parish Finance Board and as Parish Secretary. She has been a great support to successive priests.
‘Angus MacDonald was made a member of the Equestrian Order of St Gregory the Great in recognition of his support to liturgy by his reading at Mass and the work he has undertaken in restoring local church buildings.
‘Through fundraising he has supported many local charities and activities as well as stimulating local business opportunities to help locals continue to live in the West Highlands.
‘Receiving a Papal Award is an honour but it is also an invitation for further commitment to the church and the good of wider society. In fact, all the local church shares in the award and it is an invitation for everyone to live a life of service.’
As well as the new cinema and leading refurbishment projects at the churches in Arisaig and Glenfinnan, Mr MacDonald is also well known for his work through the Moidart Trust and the Dragon’s Glen initiative.
The Pontifical Equestrian Order of the Knights of St Gregory the Great, one of the five orders of knighthood of the Holy See and is given for conspicuous lay service to the church on the recommendation of a diocesan bishop with the support of the papal nuncio.
Mr MacDonald told us: ‘ Sometimes you never really know exactly what such awards are for exactly. Father Stan just rang one evening and explained about it. When he mentioned the Equestrian Order of the Knights of St Gregory I thought he was pulling my leg at first. However, it is very humbling to be recognised and it was a lovely day and event.’
As well as being permitted to have the abbreviation for the order, KSG, after his name, the papal knighthood comes with other privileges such as the right to a front row seat at papal audiences.
‘And also it seems I am now allowed to ride a horse through St Peter’s Square in Rome,’ said Mr MacDonald with a laugh.
‘Mind you, I’d have to do it in a kilt and on a Highland pony being a Highlander,’ Mr he added.
Lillian, who has been involved for what she said was ‘a lifetime’ with the church, helping with general duties, also said she felt very honoured to be recognised with an award of the Benemerenti Medal.
‘But I think it also reflects and represents the work done by a whole range of people locally on a day to day basis,’ she added.
Father Stan Pamula, parish priest for Our Lady of Perpetual Succour and St Cumins Parish, Morar, St Mary’s RC Church in Arisaig, said the event last Tuesday had gone very well.
‘It was a lovely day and the weather was much better than the forecast had been,’ he told us.
‘I think such events are extremely important as a way of marking appreciation for people’s efforts over long periods of time. Unfortunately, as parish priests we can be so busy that sometimes you end up taking people for granted without realising it, simply because they are always there to help, day in and day out, year in and year out.
‘Lochaber has a rich history of charity and of people helping eachother and long may it continue.’
Pictured attending the ceremony are, from left, Peter Boylan (Parishioner of Mingarry, Knight of St. Gregory who received his title in England before moving to the Highlands, Sponsor); Rt Rev Bishop Brian McGee, Bishop of Argyll and the Isles; Lilian MacDonald (Benemerenti Medal Recipient); Angus MacDonald (Knight of St. Gregory); Olivia Bridge (Lilian’s niece); Archie MacDonald (eldest son of Angus, Sponsor); Fr Stanislaw Pamula and Michael Lunny, from Motherwell who has a holiday home in Morar (Knight of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre) who served as Master of Ceremonies. Photograph: Anthony MacMillan.
NO F27 papal event 01
Angus MacDonald who received the Papal Knighthood of the Order of St. Gregory the Great in a ceremony last week. Photograph: Anthony Macmillan. NO-F27-papal-event-03-scaled.jpg
Lillian MacDonald with her certificate for the Benemerenti Medal which is an honour awarded by the Pope to members of the clergy and laity for service to the Catholic Church. Photograph: Anthony Macmillan. NO F27 papal event 02