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Canon McCay

Born in 1832 in Glenmornan, Co. Tyrone, John Mc Cay was educated in the Diocesan Seminary in Derry, then at Drumcondra near Dublin and received Minor orders in Dublin. He received a Canonical dispensation to be ordained priest at the tender age of 23 in the Convent of the Immaculate Conception in Glasgow in 1855.

After a short spell in St. John ' s in Glasgow, he was sent as Assistant in Lanark to Fr John Black in 1857. When Fr. Black moved to take charge of the Wishaw Mission, Fr. Mc Cay was moved to St. Athanasius in Carluke where he built the school. He had stations for Confession at Lesmahagow, Auchengray, Bankend, Newmains, Cambusnethan(!) and Biggar where he said Mass on weekdays. He also had Sunday schools at Crofthead and Shotts! He was moved to take charge of the Wishaw Mission in 1860 and within a year he had built a chapel-school in Young St to accomodate 500 pupils. He then built a chapel school in Carfin in 1862 which was attended from Wishaw and after opening St. Ignatius in 1865, he built the old presbytery in 1870. He followed this with a chapel school in Newmains in 1871 and another in Overtown in 1873.

This latter was dedicated to St. Patrick and could accomodate 200 people. In 1893, the Overtown Catholics decided that they would rather attend St. Ignatius and so the building was only used as a school for a number of years thereafter. Fr. Mc Cay was entrusted with Motherwell Mission when it was detached from Hamilton and before long he had built a wooden chapel school which soon became too small; a more commodious chapel school was built in 1875 and it then became a separate Mission. Other new Missions created during his tenure at St. Ignatius were Cleland in 1876 and Shieldmuir in 1891. He was raised to the Chapter of Canons of the Cathedral of St. Andrew in 1887. He was aware of the miserable conditions in which many of his parishioners lived and so he built a block of houses to show the authorities what could be done in providing decent homes for working people. Thus was created Loyola Place, the tenement building in Campbell Street, built with Parish Funds. Before leaving Wishaw, he handed this block of houses over to St. Peter's College, Bearsden with the proviso that the income from them was to provide bursaries for students to the priesthood, preference to be given to any from St. Ignatius. Subsequently he was appointed to St. Patrick's Coatbridge in 1893 and preached his last sermon to his Wishaw congregation on Sunday 16th May of that year. The church was crowded to excess with people from all the neighbouring parishes, which had at one time formed part of the Wishaw Mission. He immediately started work on the beautiful St Patrick ' s church designed by Pugin of London and the work was completed in three years. His health began to fail in 1900 and he died in 1903 with his body being taken to lie before the high altar in St. Patrick ' s Coatbridge. Two days later a special Requiem Mass was celebrated in St. Ignatius Church, one of the many he had been instrumental in building. The bell, which he had caused to be hung in the church, rang mournfully for half an hour before the funeral mass for the late pastor.

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