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Father Dan Friel

Teacher and master of ceremonies during papal visit to Scotland in 1982;

Born: November 29, 1926; Died: January 6, 2013.

Father Daniel Friel, who has died aged 86, was master of ceremonies at the masses celebrated by Pope John Paul II in Edinburgh and Glasgow during his visit to Scotland in 1982. He had also been a teacher at St Mary's College, Blairs, Aberdeenshire, and spiritual director at St Peter's College in Cardross, but his golden moment was when he looked after the Pope at Bellahouston in 1982.

He was born in Helensburgh, and attended the town's St Joseph's primary school, where he was dux, and then St Patrick's high school in Dumbarton. After a year, he went to the junior seminary at Blairs, and from there to the Scots College Rome in 1946, the same year as Thomas Joseph Winning, later Archbishop of Glasgow and Cardinal.

Fr Friel was ordained in Rome in 1951 and served the Archdiocese of Glasgow as a priest for more than 60 years. He was assistant priest at various times in St Mary's, Pollokshaws, St Andrew's Cathedral, and St Thomas's, Riddrie. For a year he was also administrator at Our Holy Redeemer, Clydebank. In 1978 he was appointed parish priest at St Flannan's, Kirkintilloch. He served there for 13 years until 1991, at the relatively young age of 65.

He also taught Latin at Blairs where one of his pupils was Philip Tartaglia, Archbishop of Glasgow. He remembers Fr Friel cutting an elegant dash in his caped soutane, with the cape jauntily thrown back over one shoulder.

"He was a very good teacher," said the Archbishop, "and was also sympathetic to me because his time in Rome had given him some kind of affection for Italy and I came from an Italian background. He was genuinely interested in the seminarians. He was a good teacher. He knew when to take his foot off the gas and engage with the boys in lighter conversation. He was interested in what happened on the football pitch; and, I suppose, his uncomplicated identity as a man and as a priest shone through everything he did. He was affectionately known as Uncle Dan."

While assistant priest at St Andrew's Cathedral, Fr Friel was appointed by Archbishop Scanlan as Diocesan master of ceremonies, a position he held for five years.

The apotheosis of his activities in the role came during the visit of Pope John Paul II to Scotland in 1982.

Fr Dan was the Scottish co-ordinator for the Pope's ceremonies, a huge responsibility, embracing John Paul II's Mass with Young People at Murrayfield and the massively attended national mass at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow, as well as smaller acts of worship.

The Archbishop said he believed that if Fr Friel's time at Blairs was his golden era, then the papal mass at Bellahouston was arguably his golden moment.

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