Monsignor Gerard R Hand
Some memories of Fr Hand
Very Rev Monsignor Gerard Robert Hand was born in Edinburgh
on the 12th January 1949. His father was James Hand, an electrician
and his mother was Betty Hand m.s. Fee, who made their family
home in the Canongate area of Edinburgh. Father Hand was one
of four children with an older brother James and younger brother
and sister, twins, Peter and Maureen.
He was educated at St Anne’s Cowgate (which was then
the infant department of St Patrick’s Primary School)
from 1954 – 1957 and then at St Patrick’s Primary
School from 1957 to 1961. His secondary education was at Holy
Cross Academy Edinburgh from March 1961 to June 1966.
At the age of 17 in September 1966, Gerard Hand went to St
Andrew’s College, Drygrange near Melrose in the Scottish
Borders, which was at that time the Diocesan Seminary for
the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh. As part of his
seminary formation he took a year out from his studies to
teach from August 1969 to August 1970.
He then resumed his studies in Drygrange where he concluded
his seminary training in June 1973.
Father Hand was Ordained in Edinburgh on Sunday the 25th March
1973 by Bishop Monaghan, Auxiliary Bishop of St Andrews and
Edinburgh, at St Patrick’s in the Cowgate.
His first appointment in September 1973 was as assistant Priest
to Fr. John Byrne in St Andrew’s Craighill in Livingston
for 4 years until 1977. During this posting he was appointed
as the first Chaplin to St Kentigern’s Academy in Blackburn
In September 1977 Father Hand commenced a period of further
study in Moral Theology at the Gregorian University in Rome.
In the summer of 1979 he gained a diploma in Moral Theology
(STL) and returned to Scotland.
Later in the summer of 1979 he was appointed to the staff
of the Diocesan Seminary at St Andrew’s College in Drygrange
where was to teach mainly in Moral Theology with emphasis
upon Justice and Peace. Whilst on the Staff of the Seminary,
Father Hand also had other important duties - he was the ‘Fireman’
and also the ‘Barman’!
In addition to his Seminary teaching duties, Father Hand became
Chaplin to the Scottish Catholic Marriage Advisory Council
centre in Edinburgh in 1984. Later, he also became the Chairperson
of the Centre and he became the advisor to the National Co-ordination
Group of the SCMAC. Ultimately, he became the National Chairperson
of the SCMAC.
Father Hand represented both the Diocesan Seminary College
and the Archdiocese on the Board of the ‘Centre for
Theology and Public Issues’ during the important political
period of change in Scotland before during and after the Scottish
Devolution consultation and implementation process from 1985
In the autumn of 1985 Father Hand was appointed Vicar Episcopal
for Justice and Peace. His main duties included the establishment
of Diocesan Justice and Peace and SCIAF Groups and he also
had significant involvement in the Northern Ireland Group.
Regarding the Northern Ireland Group and bearing in mind that
during this period the ‘Troubles’ in
Northern Ireland were continuing unabated, pressure was growing
to find a political solution, Father Hand’s role was
to help to develop consciousness and understanding amongst
the Scottish population of the complex issues facing Justice,
Peace and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland.
When St Andrew’s College in Drygrange closed in the
summer of 1986, Father Hand was then appointed to the staff
of the new Gillis College which was located at Whitehouse
Loan in Edinburgh in the buildings of the former St Margaret’s
Convent School. He was to remain teaching at Gillis until
the summer of 1991.
Father Hand was then appointed Parish Priest of St Patrick’s
Kilsyth in February 1991 taking over this role from
Fr. Charlie Barclay who had been Parish Administrator
of St Patrick’s for some months following the sudden
death of Fr. Bernard Dounan
in 1990. This appointment was made despite the fact the Father
Hand was still teaching at Gillis College up until the June
Father Hand remained the Parish Priest of St Patrick’s
until February 2006. During his time in Kilsyth Fr Hand established
a Pastoral Council in the Parish, always assisted by the Franciscan
Sisters of the Immaculate Conception whose convent was
located in Kilsyth for most of Fr Hand's tenure.
The fabric of the Parish had been allowed to fall into disrepair
and he worked tirelessly to achieve a £1.25 million
refurbishment of the Grade A listed, Gillespise
Kidd and Coia designed church and grounds in 1999/2000.
He was also involved with encouraging parishioners to develop
and exercise more pastoral responsibility. He was closely
involved with the Justice and Peace group in Kilsyth, and
with many inter-church activities in the town. Most notably
the relationship with Rev
Mr McLachlan and The Burns and Old Parish Church of Scotland
who allowed Fr Hand and the Parishioners of St Patrick’s
their Church building to say Mass during the period when
St Patrick’s was under refurbishment in 1999 and 2000.
He and the parishioners were also planning for the provision
of a new church hall
at the time of his departure from St Patrick's in 2006 a building
project that was ultimately fulfilled long after his departure
from St Patrick’s in 2013.
Father Hand became a member of the SCIAF Executive as well
as continuing to support SCIAF through his Justice and Peace
Father Hand also became Diocesan Pastoral Co-ordinator in
taking over this role from Fr
Charles Barclay RIP.
He was appointed in 2006 as the Parish Priest of St Paul’s
Glenrothes and St Mary’s Leslie in Fife. In addition
to these Parish duties, he was also appointed as Priest of
the Chapel Royal at Falkland Palace.
In August 2007 Father Hand was appointed Dean of St Andrew’s
and St Margaret’s Deanery, the Vicar Episcopal for Fife
and was reappointed to this post for a second term in 2012.
He was also appointed to the Council of Priests in the College
of Consultors for the Archdiocese of St Andrew’s and
In August 2010 Father
Hand was appointed as a Chaplin to His Holiness Pope Benedict
XVI with the title of Monsignor.
Fr Hand at Celtic Park
On Church roof in 1999 - (1)
On Church roof in 1999 - (2)
Fr Hand's first service at the Kilsyth War
Memorial in Nov 1991.
The others in the photo are, left to right,
Rev Mr A McLaclan, Burns & Old Parish
Church, Rev Mr Ross, Anderson Parish
Church and the Rev Mr Watker.
Fr Hand with
& Eileen Robinson
(15th May 1996)
Fr Hand at St Patrick's School with Fr Brenan, Fr, Tracey,
Fr. Deeley and Cathie Craigie MSP amongst others.
Fr Hand presents Rev Alistair McLachlan of the Burns and Old
Parish Church, on the occasion of his departure from Kilsyth,
with an antique map showing the route between his old Parish
and his new Parish.
Fr Hand and Rev McLachlan
at the Burns and Old Parish Church in May 2000
The front and the rear of the anniversary
prayer card printed
for the silver anniversary of the ordination of Fr Gerry Hand
Fr Hand blesses the graves in Kilsyth cemetery in 2005
Fr Hand liked to go for walks with
groups from the Parish - for more pictures click here
Fr Hand presents a Bible to the Kilsyth Civic Queen