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Banff priest delivers sermon to Scottish Parliament

By Lorna Thompson

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A BANFF priest told MSPs there were "no natives and no foreigners" in Scotland when he addressed parliament this week.

Father Piotr Rytel, who leads Our Lady of Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Church on Sandyhill Road, delivered a sermon at the Scottish Parliament's weekly "Time for Reflection" on Tuesday, January 19.

Father Piotr was nominated to speak by local MSP Stewart Stevenson.

Mr Stevenson said: "Over the years, I have been pleased to nominate many local ministers, pastors, priests and others to deliver Time for Reflection and their contributions have always been both thoughtful and thought-provoking.

"I was therefore delighted to have another nomination accepted from my constituency for this important part of the parliament’s week."

Father Piotr Rytel, priest at Our Lady of Mount Carmel RC Church on Sandyhill Road, Banff. Picture: Becky Saunderson.
Father Piotr Rytel, priest at Our Lady of Mount Carmel RC Church on Sandyhill Road, Banff. Picture: Becky Saunderson.

Father Piotr opened his virtual address by saying it was an honour to be given the opportunity.

He said: "My pilgrimage in the journey of my Catholic faith in Scotland began in 2013, when the Right Rev Hugh Gilbert OSB, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Aberdeen, was searching for a suitable candidate to help the growing number of Poles in the north of Scotland who were seeking pastoral support.

"I was appointed as a parish assistant at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Inverness. My mission then, and now as a parish priest at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church in Banff, not only focused on Polish chaplaincy but extended to English-speaking members of the church."

He added: "As you know, with current difficulties growing from Brexit and Covid-19, we have to focus even more on the needs of every single individual living in Scotland, and to give them all the support that they need. As a priest, that involves touching on social care and welfare, as well as on individuals and their personal development.

"Not every eastern European is coming to Scotland to work in food processing or to do other such work.

"There are many ambitious people who need support in fulfilling their dreams and aspirations in their chosen country of Scotland. They want to use their talents so that they are fulfilled, both for their own benefit and to make this country better and more prosperous. We are the new Scots, too."

Father Piotr Rytel delivers Time for Reflection virtually at the Scottish Parliament.
Father Piotr Rytel delivers Time for Reflection virtually at the Scottish Parliament.

He reminded MSPs of Galatians chapter 3 verse 28, where St Paul wrote: 'There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus'."

Father Piotr added: "In the light of those words, there are no natives and foreigners. Everyone who wants to live and grow in this country is equal.

"Incomers to this country want to fulfil their dreams, and we need to make sure that their freedom to profess their faith and to maintain their native languages and national identities is cherished and encouraged."

Chair of the Parish Pastoral Council at the church and local SNP councillor Dr Glen Reynolds said: "I am very pleased that our MSP who is shortly to retire from parliament after many years working for everyone in the town of Banff and the surrounding constituency, had decided to offer Father Piotr a platform to give such a profound reflection to the Scottish Parliament.

"The reflection is certainly a statement for our times, set as it is in a post-Brexit and pandemic world that impacts on us locally in such tragic circumstances.

"In no little way do the words of Father Piotr resonate with the unifying and inclusive speech made by President Biden at his inauguration the following day. Two very different people who happen to share the same faith and use the same message – one for bringing together the broken across the Atlantic, and the other who speaks of all as equal and with same ambitions and dreams."

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