Paving the way


A Glasgow academic explores how the work of religious orders paved the way for the success of the 1918 Education Act in Scotland.

By the 1830s the city of Glasgow could not cope with either the educational or the social needs of the people.  Glasgow had grown out of all recognition: the population in 1835 was nearly twelve times what it had been in 1775.  It suffered from all the evils associated with the industrial revolution – overcrowding, bad housing, insanitary slums and, very often, severe unemployment, poverty and lack of education.

Irish immigration, in addition to the Clearances, increased the number of Catholics in Glasgow during the 1840s and 1850s.  As the Catholic population grew, the Catholic authorities were concerned to provide an educational system for their own children.

The Rev. Peter Forbes of St. Mary’s Church, Abercromby St, had first applied to the Sisters of Mercy in Ireland, but they were unable, at that time, to free sisters for the Glasgow mission.  In 1846, Father Forbes was travelling through France seeking financial aid for the Scottish Mission and appealing also for Religious who were willing to care for the destitute Catholic children and young adults of his own parish in Glasgow.

By the end of 1847, two Franciscan Sisters, Adelaide and Veronica, were ready to embark on the apostolate which had drawn them to the Scottish Mission, the education of young Catholics.  The following year, on 17th February 1848, Sister Adelaide died of cholera and Sister Veronica was left alone in Glasgow to carry on the work.

As a direct consequence of the epidemics of typhoid and cholera which affected Glasgow in the 1830s and 1840s, one of the greatest needs of the period among the Catholic community was an orphanage,… Continue reading

1918: A panacea for Catholic education in Scotland?

Mary Cullen.

The editor of Open House reports on a lecture given by Professor Sir Tom Devine exactly 100 years to the day after the Education (Scotland) Act of 1918 received royal assent.  Was it, he asked, a panacea for Catholic education in Scotland? Continue reading

Creating inclusive communities


The woman responsible for Special Religious Development in the Archdiocese of Glasgow explains the thinking behind it and the enrichment it offers to parish communities.

Inclusion is one of those words that is best understood in the negative.  We all have some experience of what it feels like not to be included, of feeling on the outside looking in.  Perhaps there was a time when we were not chosen for a team, not invited to a party, left out of a conversation, didn’t get a joke that had everyone else roaring with laughter, or when we were not being asked to do something that we longed to do.  We might recall too the gratitude we felt towards someone who noticed that we were left on the margins and took the trouble to draw us in and offered the extra help that we needed to take part.

One group of people who have more experience that most of what it is like not to be included are those who are affected by a learning or developmental disability.  Perhaps we might expect this to happen in secular society, but surely not in the church, not in our parish communities where we know ourselves to be brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, beloved children of God?  Sadly it is often the case that our brothers and sisters with learning disabilities do not feel themselves to be included in the life of the church and if they are not included, neither are their families.

Why should this be so?  Mainly it is a question of lack of awareness.  Sometimes the issue is that people with learning disabilities are not very visible in our parishes.  Families may find it hard to bring children with learning… Continue reading

Feb/Mar 2020

In June 2019 Open House held a conference exploring possible new directions for the Catholic Church in Scotland. See conference papers.

Open House also held a conference on the role of lay people in the governance of the Catholic Church in November 2013. See conference papers.