RELIGION: Archbishop shuns grand mansion for small parish home

Archbishop William Nolan, whose remit runs through West Dunbartonshire and South Argyll, has said he will live in a smaller parish house in Glasgow rather than this south side mansion. Above the Archbishop receives ashes at the beginning of Lent ceremony in St Andrew’s Cathedral.

By Democrat reporter

The [Glasgow] Herald is reporting that as the new leader of Scotland’s largest Catholic community he could easily be enjoying life in an opulent residence set aside for a man in his position.

However, just like Pope Francis, Archbishop William Nolan has eschewed the grander property favoured by his predecessors for a more modest abode.

The 68-year-old said he would not be setting up home in the plush Glasgow mansion which was previously occupied by Archbishop Philip Tartaglia before his death in January last year.

Instead of moving to the Archbishop’s House on St Andrew’s Drive, near Bellahouston Park, he will live in the parish house at St Patrick’s Church in Anderston, a deprived area of the city close to the Kingston Bridge.

Canon Paul Gargaro, pictured right, who was brought up in Castlehill, Dumbarton, is the parish priest there.

Explaining his decision, the Archbishop said the mansion was “lovely but too big” and said living in the smaller property would allow him to be near his people and get some daily exercise.

He said: “I wanted to live within walking distance of the cathedral and the archdiocesan offices [at St Andrew’s Cathedral on Clyde Street].

“When I was Bishop of Galloway I lived in the flat above the office in Ayr and I used to try to walk for an hour every day to give myself some exercise.

“I felt that the Archbishop’s House, while lovely, was too big for me and I don’t want to feel isolated and waste time being stuck in traffic every day.

“So I have decided to live at the parish house of St Patrick’s in Anderston where I can be near to people and walk to the cathedral and my new office.”

Pope Francis has also opted for a more modest lifestyle that his predecessors.

When the Pope was elected he went against Vatican tradition by choosing not to live in the opulent apostolic apartments.

Instead he lives in the Casa Santa Marta, a Vatican residence that houses visiting clergy and non-clergy members.

On the day he was introduced to the people as the new pope, he declined to ride in the Popemobile, a custom-made Mercedes Benz which has a white leather interior with gold trim and a white leather turret that can be raised by hydraulic lift, saying “I’ll just ride… on the bus.”

Pope Francis also made headlines for choosing a 30-year-old white Renault 4 as his mode of transport. Although when he later purchased another vehicle, he then raffled off the small car to raise funds for the poor.


Where as Benedict XVI favoured red loafers and ermine-lined cloaks, Pope Francis, pictured above,  he wore simple black shoes and an ordinary wrist watch with a black band to his first Mass as Pontiff.

Closer to home, in 2014, the Bishop of Paisley shunned a more comfortable address to move into a parish house in a housing scheme in an area of multiple deprivation in Greenock.

Bishop John Keenan, pictured right, who grew up in a high-rise in Glasgow’s Maryhill, said the Catholic Church was going through a cultural shift and would have to “adapt and change in order to be close to the people of our times”.

His first move as the new Bishop of Paisley saw him decline to take up the detached sandstone villa in the town, in Renfrewshire, used by his predecessors, and move instead to a church property in Greenock’s east end.

This came on the back of criticism within the Catholic Church of the manner in which many senior clergy live, with former Bishop of Motherwell Joe Devine attracting controversy in 2008 for demolishing his home to build a new residence at an estimated cost of £650,000.

 * There are Catholic churches in West Dunbartonshire from Clydebank to Helensburgh, Arrochar and Rosneath.

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