Real lives: Hats off to canon for sterling service

Canon White is taking on a fresh challenge. Picture: Gordon Fraser

Canon White is taking on a fresh challenge. Picture: Gordon Fraser

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Canon Hugh White recently left Midlothian after 25 years as parish priest for Rosewell and Bonnyrigg, including the last ten years for Gorebridge.

Canon White’s first appointment was also in Rosewell 53 years ago.

After moving on, he returned to spend 25 happy years at the Parish of Our Lady, St Matthew’s and ten years at St Margaret’s. Now the 75-year-old is moving on.

He said: “The original intention was I was retiring but the Bishop asked me to reconsider and take the clergy at Fauldhouse in West Lothian. It’s a busy parish, but it’s just one instead of three.

“I have been here for 25 years which is a long time. I have lots of happy memories, very happy times here, I’ve made lots of good friends. I have seen lots of signs of life and growth.

“I will miss them. Hopefully they will miss me.

“I have mixed feelings. Sad to go but looking forward to new adventures now.

“I hope I have contributed something here. But it’s time for a change, a change is never a bad thing.

“I hope they will give the new priest the same support they gave me for so long, that’s what keeps you going. It’s a very special relationship between a church parish and a Catholic priest. He is there for every one of them.”

Canon White also spoke of his relationship with his flock.

He said: “I can honestly say I have felt real love and care here. I will keep in touch.

“Most of them seem to like my style. It’s a bit flamboyant, outgoing, friendly. Not stuffy.

“Most people will think of me in outrageous costumes at the annual garden fête we have.

“I always stood out, welcoming people dressed in outrageous costumes or hats that I would bring back from my travels.

“I used to go to New Orleans every year. When I was there I would bring a hat back for the fête.

“People saw it for what it was, being one with them.”

Canon White recalled his move back to Rosewell in 1990: “I remember it clearly. It was the first time one priest had been appointed to two parishes.

“And I was also then the first to get three parishes.

“But now that’s the way it is. So in a way we pioneered things.

“We rose to the challenge, we have really worked on it with, I would say, some considerable success.

“We have also had good relations with the other churches. I feel our communities have come together.”

Parishioner Marie-Alice Quigley said: “He is a character. He will be sadly missed.

“He was always the life and soul of the party.”

KEVIN QUINN