Death of Bishop Joseph Devine

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The late Bishop Joseph Devine, who once served in Helensburgh.

By Bill Heaney

Tributes have been paid to Bishop Joseph Devine, retired Bishop of Motherwell, who died on Thursday 23 May at Wishaw general Hospital, aged 82.

Bishop Devine was an assistant priest at St Joseph’s Church, Helensburgh, as a young man and was secretary to the late Dr Donald Scanlan, Archbishop of Glasgow.

He was often at the centre of controversy and featured largely in the media for what some people viewed as his conservative Catholic views and extravagant lifestyle.

Bishop Devine was auxiliary with Bishop Charles Renfrew  to Cardinal Thomas Winning, who organised the visit of Pope John Paul II to Scotland in 1982.

Bishop Hugh Gilbert, President of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland said:  “On behalf of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland I would like to offer Bishop Devine’s family our deepest and most prayerful sympathies. During his active years as a bishop, he made a lasting and significant contribution to work of the Bishops’ Conference. I will pray for the repose of his soul and celebrate Mass for him today (Friday 24 May).”

“We ask God to grant him eternal rest after his distinguished ministry as a priest and bishop in Scotland – and give thanks for all that he did for the Church in our country over the past 59 years of his priesthood. May God rest his soul.”

Bishop Joseph Toal, Bishop Devine’s successor as Bishop of Motherwell, said:  “All in the Diocese of Motherwell feel the sadness of the death of our Bishop Emeritus, the Rt Rev Joseph Devine, yesterday evening.

“He served as Bishop of Motherwell for 30 Years, and for six years years before that as Auxiliary Bishop of Glasgow Archdiocese, so we acknowledge and give thanks to God for his faithful and very full ministry as a bishop and priest.

“I heard of the news of his death in Wishaw General Hospital as I was about to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation, something  which Bishop Devine celebrated hundreds of times, and it is for this that many in the Diocese remember him best.

“Through his years as a bishop, Bishop Devine served the Catholic Church in Scotland through his full participation and valued contribution to the work of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, particularly in regard to Catholic Education.”

He was very much opposed to the idea of shared campuses for Catholic primary schools and stalwart defender of segregated education.

Bishop Toal added: “Although he was very ill through the last days of his life he was still very alert and very much himself.

“I thank those who nursed him through his last week on earth and those who attended to him at home through the years since his retirement. We commend his soul to God and look forward to celebrating his Funeral Mass and giving thanks for all he offered to the Lord and his people as Priest and Bishop. May he rest in peace.”

Archbishop Leo Cushley, Archbishop of St. Andrews & Edinburgh, and a former priest of the Diocese of Motherwell said: “I will always remember Bishop Joseph Devine with affection and respect. He was a generous and wise pastor of souls and as a young priest I learned a great deal from him. He dedicated himself generously to celebrating Word and Sacrament, especially among the young people of Motherwell, and we owe him a great debt of gratitude. May he rest in peace”

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