The following tribute was delivered by his friend, Peter Finn, at Eugene's funeral, November 17th 2006
|I have been asked by Mrs MacBride Zelda to say
a few words about Eugene on behalf of his friends, especially his friends
in the Pelican Association an association of former students of
the White Father that he founded and co-ordinated from its beginnings
Until Eugene came along, meetings between old boys and with members of the White Fathers Society were random and infrequent, especially as a great number had settled in other parts of the world.
Eugene took immense trouble to contact scores of former students who, in turn, contacted others until very quickly a network was set up. And with the introduction of our website by a member of the group the network expanded internationally. Eugene put a lot of effort into establishing and maintaining contacts through his newsletters and by arranging one or two gatherings each year in Scotland, Ireland and England and even a couple in Rome. To these meeting often came our brothers from abroad especially from the USA and Canada.
But our association is not just an old boys club: it includes and involves, wives, families and friends. We also provide some financial support to individual White Fathers and White Sisters in the African missions, and none has been more generous in this regard than Eugene.
Eugene was born in Glasgow in 1937, the eldest of four children. His first contact with the White Fathers was in 1949 when at he age of twelve he went to St Columbas College in Scotland. He had previously been at Holy Rood Academy, Glasgow, which he entered with the highest entrance examination marks for his year. There are men in the congregation here today who were with him at St Columbas all those years ago, and there is even one who was with him at primary school from the age of five. An indication of the strong friendships forged by Eugene.
I recall him telling me that he arrived at St Columbas a couple of days after the other boys and was taken immediately to his first Latin lesson where the pupils were reciting amo, amas, amat. This was his first lesson in Latin a language in which he was to become expert and fluent.
After only a year he went to The Priory in Hampshire, the White Fathers junior seminary. It was there that I first met him for he sat opposite me at table in the refectory. I remember him clearly: he was small with a chubby face, cheerful countenance, bright eyes and a crewcut. He was a clever boy who got high marks. This was good for me for he was in my house: high examination marks meant high house points, and high house points meant prizes, and the prizes were a silver cup and a half days holiday at the end of term. House points were also awarded for winning at games, and Eugene did his bit there as well as goalkeeper for the house football team.
His friend and classmate throughout his Priory days was Michael, now Archbishop, Fitzgerald. They were both academically gifted and together both took their A-level exams at the same time as their O-levels.
Eugene went on to study philosophy and theology in Ireland, Holland and London. And in London he was awarded his BA degree in Philosophy and Latin by London University.
About this time we all lost touch with each other until the 1990s after Eugene had set up the Pelicans. In the meantime he had been laicised, married, had a family, and taken up a career in teaching languages: Latin, of course, French and, later, German.
Establishing the Pelicans was an achievement of which he could be particularly proud, but he never expressed nor even indicated any pride in the matter. Its success, however, is almost entirely due to his drive and enthusiasm.
Earlier this year, with his usual energy, even though he had been diagnosed with a grave illness, he arranged with his friend Archbishop Michael for us all to gather for a week in Rome at the end of October. Unfortunately for us, Pope Benedict had other plans for Michael and dispatched him as Papal Nuncio to Cairo in September. And, sadly, Eugenes health declined rapidly so that he was unable to accompany us on what was a memorable trip.
We were hospitably welcomed by the White Fathers at their headquarters in Rome, and they arranged for us to attend a papal audience the highlight of our visit. We visited the basilicas, the catacombs, and many of the tourist attractions, and we dined together each evening with much merriment and laughter. On our last evening we had our own Mass in the beautiful crypt chapel of the White Fathers. The chapel resonated with our singing, especially our singing of the Salve Regina Eugenes favourite hymn.
The Rome trip became in effect a pilgrimage, for Eugene was always in our thoughts, in our conversations and in our prayers.
Another enthusiasm of Eugenes was Glasgow Celtic Football Club. He wrote and published two books about the club: An Alphabet of the Celts and Talking with Celtic. He also edited and produced a club fan magazine to which he persuaded eminent football people to contribute. This months issue, for example, contains articles by Sir Alex Ferguson, manager of Manchester United, and Martin ONeil, manager of Aston Villa. In fact he was working on this issue when his powers failed him.
Even though Eugenes death was expected, it still came as a shock to us all. For his family it is a terrible grief. For his friends, we are saddened that to have lost a dear brother.
He was modest in his demeanour, silent about his achievements, always courteous, warm-hearted, kindly and generous. His humour, wacky e-mails and unquenchable optimism produced much merriment and, I must say, a great deal of affection.
He was a good and loyal friend, and we shall miss him very, very much.
He has preceded us into the presence of God. But death and, please God, a place in heaven awaits all of us. For this we were born and, as the words of todays funeral service remind us, for this we were baptised. Happily, as St Thomas More said just before his own death Soon we shall all be merry together in Heaven.
Dont grieve for me, for now Im free
of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy,
|LITURGY OF THE WORD
A reading from the second letter of St Paul to Timothy 4:6-8. 16-18
All there is to come now is the crown of righteousness reserved for me.
My life is already being poured away as a libation, and the time has come for me to be gone. I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith; all there is to come now is the crown of righteousness reserved for me, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that Day; not only to me but to all who have longed for his Appearing.
This is the word of the Lord
All : Thanks be to God
St.John Chap 21 v1-18 (Ronald Knox)
21 Jesus appeared to his disciples again afterwards, at the sea of Tiberias, and this is how he appeared to them. Simon Peter was there, and with him were Thomas, who is also called Didymus, and Nathanael, from Cana of Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two more of his disciples.
Simon Peter told them: I am going out fishing; and they sald, We, too, will go with thee. So they went out and embarked on the boat, and all that night they caught nothing. But when morning came, there was Jesus standing on the shore; only the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.
Have you caught anything, friends, Jesus asked them, to season your bread with? And when they answered No, he said to them, Cast to the right of the boat, and you will have a catch. So they cast the net, and found before long they had no strength to haul it in, such a shoal of fish was in it. Whereupon the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, It is the Lord. And Simon Peter, hearing him say that it was the Lord, girded up the fisherman's coat, which was all he wore, and sprang into the sea.
The other disciples followed in the boat (they were not far from land, only some hundred yards away), dragging their catch in the net behind them. So they went ashore, and found a charcoal fire made there, with fish and bread cooking on it.
Bring some of the fish you have just caught, Jesus said to them: and Simon Peter, going on board, hauled in the net to land. It was loaded with great fish, a hundred and fifty-three of them; and with all that number the net had not broken.
When Jesus said to them, Come and break your fast, none of the disciples ventured to ask him, Who art thou? knowing well that it was the Lord. So Jesus came up and took bread, which he gave to them, and fish as well.
Thus Jesus appeared to his disciples a third time after hi rising from the dead.
And when they had eaten, Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, son of John, dost thou care for me more than these others? Yes, Lord, he told them, thou knowest well that I love thee. And he said to him, Feed my lambs. And again, a second time, he asked him, Simon, son of John, dost thou care for me? Yes, Lord, he told him, thou knowest well that I love thee. He said to him, Tend my shearlings. Then he asked him a third question, Simon, son of John, dost thou love me? Peter was deeply moved when he was asked a third time, Dost thou love me? and said to him Lord, thou knowest all things ; thou canst tell that I love thee. Jesus said to him, Feed my sheep.
Communion Adoro te Devote
(Sung by the Pelicans)
Click to hear the music (960kb)
Salve Regina, Mater misericordiae,
Vita dulcedo et spes nostra salve.
Ad te clamamus exsules filii Hevae.
Ad te suspiramus gementes et flentes,
in hac lacrimarum valle.
Eja ergo advocata nostra,
illos tuos misericordes oculos ad nos converte.
Et Jesum benedictum fructum ventris tui
nobis post hoc exsilium ostende.
O clemens, o pia, o dulcis Virgo Maria.
Hail holy queen, mother of mercy,
Hail our life, our sweetness and our hope.
To you do we cry poor banished children of Eve,
To you do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping
in this valley of tears.
Turn then, most gracious advocate
your eyes of mercy toward us.
And after this, our exile,
Show us the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.
Sweet Saviour, bless us ere we go;
"I Belong To Glasgow" was played as a finale a special request from dear old Eugene.
Click to hear the music (3.7mb)
I've been wi' a couple o' cronies,
One or two pals o' my ain;
We went in a hotel, and we did very well,
And then we came out once again;
Then we went into anither,
And that is the reason I'm fu';
We had six deoch-an-doruses, then sang a chorus,
Just listen, I'll sing it to you:
I belong to Glasgow,
Dear old Glasgow town;
But what's the matter wi' Glasgow,
For it's goin' roun' and roun'!
I'm only a common old working chap,
As anyone here can see,
But when I get a couple o' drinks on a Saturday,
Glasgow belongs to me!
There's nothing in keeping your money,
And saving a shilling or two;
If you've nothing to spend, then you've nothing to lend,
Why that's all the better for you!
There no harm in taking a drappie,
It ends all your trouble and strife;
It gives ye the feeling that when you get home,
You don't give a hang for the wife!
Meaning of unusual words:
deoch-an-dorus = drink at the door, farewell drink
fu' = drunk