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- Fr John Harding, O.F.M.
On the day after Christmas, St Stephen's Day commonly called Boxing Day, our Craigmillar community received a shock when police called to say that John Harding had been found dead by a dog-walker in a burn near a pedestrian footpath in the Duddingston area. He was almost certainly on his way to the Craigmillar Friary not far away, where he usually joined the community for lunch every Wednesday. They had last seen him the previous Sunday afternoon when, again according to custom, he called to visit the Craigmillar commnity to whom he was assigned, but they noticed a confusion in his speech and thought processes which had in the past heralded an imminent epilectic seizure. He was driven back to his residence by the Guardian to make sure he arrived safely. Nothing more was heard from him until the police called.
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JUBILEES IN THE PROVINCE DURING 2013
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The website of our Order in Rome (www.ofm.org) carries a report on the activities of the friars in the London of the Olympic Games 2012. Their report is given on the news page of Stratford Friary below.
"By invitation of the Brothers from the Province of the Immaculate Conception in Great Britain, some members of the fraternity of Palestrina took part in a mission during the Olympic Games in London ... " (click here)
- As a young student
- With Fr Morrison outside St Michael's church, Eriskay, after his First Mass there, September 1968
- After his investiture as a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre 1994
- Terra Sancta College in Amman 1948
The island of Eriskay ("Eric's Isle") is a small one (only 1.5 x 2.5 miles in size) lying between South Uist and Barra in the Outer Hebrides, its population amounting to 133 in a recent census. Yet it has many claims to fame that have made its name known far beyond the Hebrides. There is the Eriskay Love Lilt, the Hebridean song familiar to music lovers everywhere. Film buffs will remember the film Whiskey Galore! which recounted the story of an event which really happened here when in 1941 the SS Politician ran aground with its precious cargo of whiskey promptly taken into protective custody by the inhabitants of the time. Further back on the 2 August 1745, Prince Charles Edward Stuart ("Bonnie Prince Charlie") was landed here by a small French frigate with his seven men to start the '45 Jacobite Rebellion. And it was here on the 27th August 1912 that John Kennth Campbell was born, destined to be the first and only Catholic priest and Franciscan ever to come from the island.
He entered the Order at the age of 16. Having volunteered to work in the Custody of the Holy Land, in 1946 he arrived in Jerusalem after a hazardous journey, as the British were about to withdraw from the Arab-Israeli conflict. Only a short while after that did that war break out. Kenneth did much to feed and house the resulting refugees. He assembled a herd of donkeys, and, overnight with the assistance of the school’s teachers and administration moved the prestigious Terra Sancta college from Jerusalem to the safer climate of Amman. There he served as its principal. He was a close friend of Kings Abdullah and Hussein, both helping Kenneth in his welfare work and providing wheat to bake the hundreds of loaves needed each day. In time Kenneth sought priesthood. A considerable number of the diplomatic corps attended his ordination in Washington DC. He returned to the service of the Holy Land Custody, working in various places in Jerusalem and the surrounding countries, and as far afield as Taiwan where he set up a Commissariat. As guide he led many tens of thousands of pilgrims – Cardinals, bishops among them- to become familiar with the places where Jesus lived and taught, and so greatly to deepen their love for him and understanding of the bible. With age he returned to this country, but his work for the Holy Land continued. He had many friends in high places – as well as many more in low places. So he was to be found in such locations as the Caledonia Club, the House of Lords, and engaged in such organisations as the Palestinian Exploration Society. He died on 24 March 1998.
On the centenary day of his birth, some 130 people gathered in St Michael's church on the island of Eriskay for a Mass to honour the occasion. A Ceilidh followed. The pictures will give some idea of the occasion.
- The Ceilidh
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