News from around the Archdiocese of Liverpool
LIVERPOOL CATHEDRAL CELEBRATING 50 YEARS
- A LOOK BACK AT OUR COMMEMORATIVE ISSUE
Knight vision - by Simon Hart
A conversation with Ray Pealing, the man who heads the Knights of St Columba in Liverpool, begins with a striking fact pertaining to his working life with ICI. Now retired, Ray was group construction manager for the chemical company, a role which included involvement at the sprawling site at Runcorn which was, for decades, the property of ICI. ‘I had a finger in many of the bits and pieces you see at Runcorn,’ he explains. ‘At night, it’s lit up like a Christmas tree. Just that one site consumes one per cent of the national grid.’
Ray spent 32 years with ICI after graduating with an Electrical Engineering degree from Liverpool University and his experiences serve him well in his role as provincial grand knight – to use his official title – with the KSC in Liverpool. ‘The managerial skills, the man-management skills, the planning skills, the organisational skills … yes indeed, it’s been a big help,’ he reflects. ‘I can remember one of my colleagues saying to me even before I joined, “You’re going to be a provincial grand knight one day”. I said, “I don’t know how you work that out” but it turned out to be right.’
These skills will be tested once more in the coming weeks as, between 1 and 3 October, the Liverpool Knights will host ‘for the first time in living memory’ the Order’s annual supreme conference, usually held in Scotland. ‘There are people coming from the north of Scotland and from as far south as Jersey, and a big contingent coming up from London,’ he says. The annual supreme meeting on Saturday 2nd will feature some 90 members of the Order, with around 150 attending the banquet that night. Sunday will bring Mass at the Metropolitan Cathedral, concelebrated by Archbishop Malcolm McMahon and Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham. Ray’s wife, Mary, meanwhile, is helping stage Saturday’s tour of Liverpool’s cathedrals for members’ wives, including lunch at the Anglican Cathedral.
This is an honour bestowed on Liverpool for the fact that 100 years ago the city became the first in England to found a KSC province, today comprising nine councils stretching from Widnes to Southport via the Isle of Man. ‘It’s seen as the first place south of the border where the Knights of St Columba got a grip,” adds the Aigburth-based Ray, whose own council in south Liverpool is England’s oldest (and one of four in Liverpool celebrating their centenary this year).
On his own history with the KSC, the father of two admits he is ‘very much a Johnny come lately’ having become a member at 54. ‘I’ve seen provincial grand knights who’ve managed to hold down a busy working career as well and I honestly don’t know how they did it,’ adds the 72-year-old, who considers the Order’s strong sense of ‘fraternity’ as fundamental. ‘It helps your faith, it helps you to pray, work and have fun together.’ And, he notes, it extends to supporting the widows of Brothers who pass away and to helping fellow Brothers in need.
He adds: ‘We help others who are less fortunate than ourselves, mainly with charitable donations. We generate funds by doing sponsored walks, concerts, dinners, and other social events that can make a profit for us and all those funds we disperse to local charities and further afield as well. At the end of the day, it’s a lay vocation. We’re not ordained men but we are a lay apostolate who care for each other and the world that we live in.’
• For information about joining the KSC, contact Ray at [email protected]