St Gerard’s plans 
an all-night vigil

Father Kevin McGoldrick
Father Kevin McGoldrick

A Bellshill church is holding an all-night vigil as part of the Advent season and to mark the beginning of the Year of Mercy.

Taking place in St Gerard’s Church, the vigil will begin with mass at 8pm on Friday, December 11, and close with a second mass 12 hours later.

During the night people are invited to make use of the church for prayer and penance.

Father Kevin McGoldrick, parish priest of the joint St Gerard’s and Sacred Heart charge, came up with the idea after being impressed with the number of people who turned out at the 24 Hours For The Lord event in Motherwell Cathedral in March.

He said: “I was asked to take confession from around 2-3am at the cathedral and I really wasn’t sure who would turn up at that time.

“As it was, there was really quite a healthy number so I thought maybe we could try something similar at St Gerard’s.

“I will be taking the advent masses at 8pm and 8am and in between the two services there will be adoration throughout the night.

“We are hoping to have plenty of people volunteering to be on duty. Perhaps they may see it as a penance, and everyone will only need to be there for as long as they wish.

“Recent events across the world have affected a lot of people so as a church we want to support each other by coming together in prayer.”

Father McGoldrick also hopes the vigil will help boost attendance numbers for services.

He said: “When the last census was done in 2013 I think the number of parishioners attending services was 22 per cent. Now unfortunately we are even lower than that.

“During the vigil we are encouraging people to bring along a friend, relative or neighbour who might have lapsed or not ordinarily come to services and perhaps they will find their way back to the church.”

The Year of Mercy was called for by Pope Francis as he looks to refashion the Roman Catholic Church “as a place not of judgment, but of pardon”.

It runs from December 8-November 20 next year with more than a dozen celebrations planned, giving pilgrims the chance to celebrate with Pope Francis in Rome.

Father McGoldrick admits he would love to be able to attend the celebration for priests next June.

He said: “It would be wonderful to join the Holy Father in Rome. Looking after two parishes, I am kept very busy, but maybe something can be arranged.”