In 1560, at the height of the Scottish Reformation, the Franciscan Friars of the Observant Reform departed Edinburgh and the ancient Scottish Kingdom.
366 years would pass before the Friars would again take up residence when invited to use the old church of St Patrick, Lothian Street, across the way from Edinburgh's Royal Infirmary. The year was 1926.
By 1929 the Friars of Lothian Street were ministering to the few Catholic families in the newly emerging Craigmillar housing scheme in the south side of the City. By 1934 there were regular Sunday Masses in a purpose-built hall and four years later the parish of St Therese of Lisieux was established with four Friars residing on the Niddrie Mains Road.
It would take another 24 years before the church was built but the Friars were firmly rooted and that presence has remained these past 88 years until now. In 2017 the administration of the Custody of the Immaculate Conception elected to withdraw our presence from the Archdiocese and to close the friary at Craigmillar.
On October 4th, the Solemnity of St Francis of Assisi, Archbishop Leo Cushley presided at a Farewell Mass in Craigmillar church. In the company of the Custos, Fr Patrick Lonsdale, and the two remaining members of the community - Fr Isidore Faloona and Fr Brian McGrath - there were a goodly number of parishioners, friends and past parishioners. The Archbishop spoke appreciatively of the presence and ministry of the Friars during these many long years. There have been over fifty Friars who have served in those years.
With a mixture of sadness and gratitude, memories and reminiscences were recalled and thanksgiving made to God for the blessings and graces of those years. The parish welcomed its new parish priest, Fr Matthew, a Capuchin Friar from India, who now awaits the arrival of his confreres to once again make a Franciscan community in residence.
May they have many years of fruitful service and ministry.