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Monsignor James McShane

Campaigning priest;

Born: August 12, 1924; Died: December 21, 2012.

Monsignor James McShane, who has died aged 88, was one of Glasgow's best-known priests. He was heavily involved in trying to protect jobs in the big industries in Clydebank, Singers and shipbuilding, and campaigned against the poll tax, Trident and the Iraq war.

He was born in Barrhead and baptised in St John's Church, Barrhead. His first school was St John's School, Barrhead. Following this, he was a pupil at St Peter's School, Buckie, and St Conval's School, Pollokshaws, subsequently attending St Aloysius College. He then went to St Mary's College, Blairs and from there to Aberdeen to study philosophy.

Mgr McShane studied theology at St Peter's College, Bearsden, but after it was destroyed by fire, went to St Joseph's College, Mill Hill, London, to continue his studies. In 1946 he went to the Scots College in Rome, for advanced studies in theology and Scripture.

He was ordained a priest by the late Archbishop Donald Campbell at St Aloysius Church, Glasgow, on 12 September 1947 and celebrated his first mass in St Vincent's Church, Thornliebank, in September 1947. He then returned to his studies in the Scots College, Rome. In 1950, after studies at the Gregorian University the Pontifical Biblical Institute, Rome, and the École Biblique, Jerusalem, he spent a short time as a curate in St Brendan's Parish, Yoker, and St Mark's, Glasgow.

In 1955, he became Professor of Sacred Scripture and Biblical Studies in St Peter's College in Cardross. He was also a lecturer in religious education in the Notre Dame College of Education whilst assisting in St Helen's Parish and Parish of Our Lady and St George. Mgr McShane taught at Notre Dame for 10 years, during which time he qualified and registered as a teacher in 1971.

He was appointed parish priest to St Margaret's Church in Clydebank in 1977. During this time, he became totally absorbed and involved in the life of the town and community. He spoke out against the poll tax and marched with the various groups who shared the same view. At the age of 80, he also marched against the Iraq war in 2003 and joined many demonstrations to oppose Trident.

He served St Margaret's Parish in Clydebank for 27 years until he stepped down in 2004, by which time his strength was failing, but his brain was still very sharp and active. He worked tirelessly for the good of Clydebank and was always a great friend and advocate of St Margaret of Scotland Hospice.

Mgr McShane was a priest for 65 years, working up to his final day. He was out visiting the sick, the housebound and chatting to many of the local parishioners who loved and respected him so much.

He regularly quoted one of his favourite authors, the Dutch priest Henri Nouwan who gave up an academic career to share his life with mentally handicapped people in Canada:

"We are born as fragile beings, We die as fragile beings, We all need each other, To live well and to die well."

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