Catholic Church Kilsyth

Monsignor Gerard R Hand

Father Gerry Hand in 1991The 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 West Lothian.

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 – 2002.

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 of 1991.

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 to use 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 responsibilities.

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 Edinburgh.

In August 2010 Father Hand was appointed as a Chaplin to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI with the title of Monsignor.

Some memories of Fr Hand

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
McDonald family,
Mgnr McNally,
& Eileen Robinson
(October 1994)
Presentation of
SCIAF Cheque
(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

Fr Hand's elevation to Monsignor

God BlessYou!