On Saturday 19th March, I went to St. John's Church, Cumnock, with two other Maybole ladies from Our Lady & St. Cuthbert's to meet Archbishop Pablo Puente, the Vatican Ambassador to the Court of King James (or should we now be saying Queen Elizabeth II?). His official title in the Catholic Church is "Papal Nuncio" and the occasion for his three day visit to Galloway was to meet the Catholic population and find out how things are going generally. The Nuncio normally resides in London.
A large crowd of about three to four hundred people had come to Cumnock from all over the Catholic Diocese of Galloway, which reaches from Largs to Stranraer in the south. This was our first meeting with an ambassador and it was an important occasion for all of us, as we were being consulted about the kind of person we think we would like to have as bishop, when Bishop Taylor retires later this year.
We were all introduced to him personally in the Church hall. Bishop Taylor, our diocesan bishop, introduced the three from Maybole as "very important people" and reminded the ambassador he had met our parish priest, Fr. Jim Hayes, the day before. Bishop Taylor visits Maybole regularly, both the Church and the parish school of St. Cuthbert's, and he is on first name terms with quite a few in the parish.
After a very filling buffet lunch, laid on by the local Cumnock parish, the Maybole contingent had a chance to chat with the Nuncio. We found out he has a sense of humour and is happy to listen to our views. He invited us to write to him with a profile of the next bishop, as we see him, and a list of three names of anyone we thought might meet the criteria. He himself was not, as he had said earlier in the Church, a bishop making machine. If he gets as many replies as he anticipates, he will probably get a profile which it would take St. Francis himself to fill.
We hope he enjoyed his visit as much as we did - and we hope he gets the right man for the job. It will take a big man to fill Bishop Taylor's shoes, as he said, and we all concurred.
One thing he said will remain with us. We are all "letters written by Christ for the 21st century". Maybe he was trying to pass the ambassador's job on to us. So, that being so, we decided to do our bit by putting something on the community web site. It may take us a bit longer to get the letters to the Nuncio written!