St. Bernadette's History
Prior to the appointment of a resident priest in 1958, Tullibody was served from the parish of St Mungo at Alloa, whose priests ministered to the spiritual needs of the people with great loyalty and fervour. Many of those pioneers have now been called to their heavenly reward.
Because of their efforts to sustain the Faith, Bishop William Andrew Hart decided to set up a parish of Saint Bernadette in Tullibody, and appointed Father (later Canon) P.J McKearney as the first parish priest on the 5th September 1958. Father McKearney set about his formidable task of establishing a parish,(Sunday mass was held in the old Tullibody Institute Hall with daily mass in the upstairs room of the priests house at 9 Baingle Brae just up the hill from the existing St Bernadette’s). This and laying plans for the building of a church was no small task, but supported by many wonderful and enthusiastic parishioners, his dream of a church was realised, when on the 26th June, 1963, Bishop Hart blessed and opened the church and house. Father McKearney was now 'on his own patch', and no longer a 'Council tenant'.
The parish grew in strength and numbers under his tireless leadership. After six years of labouring here, Father McKearney was called to administer St. Andrews Cathedral in Dundee and his place was taken by Father (later also Canon) Ernest Andrew, then parish priest at Strathtay.
During his nine years of ministering to the parish Father Andrew was equal to the task and standards set by his predecessor and is still affectionately remembered and highly regarded by those of his time who are still in the parish.
The third parish priest of this young parish was Father Edward (Ned) Durkin, transferred from St Fergus, in Forfar, in 1971. Father Durkin had two great privileges; the opening of the new primary schools for the parish, and the celebration of his Priestly Silver Jubilee in 1971.
In October 1981, Father John Nolan became the fourth parish priest of St. Bernadette’s. He was transferred from his curacy at St Matthew's in Dundee where he had served since his ordination in 1978. Fr. Nolan who had a great devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes and was responsible for organising Diocesan Pilgrimages to Lourdes and in recognition of his devotion and work he was appointed an "Honorary Chaplin to the Grotto". Fr. Nolan died in Alloa Hospital on 6th June 1987 following a short illness.
Fr. Nolan was succeeded by Father Charles Hendry. Fr Hendry came to St. Bernadette's from St. Ninian’s, Dundee and remained till 1990. In 1988 Fr. Hendry was appointed a member of the Cathedral Chapter. In 1990 Canon (later Mgr). Hendry was transferred to St.Fillans, Crieff.
The shortage of priests resulted in changes to the way the churches in Clackmannanshire were run. St. Bernadette's was clustered with St. Mungo's, Alloa with Father James Foley as Parish priest and Father James High became the priest-in-charge at St. Bernadette's. Fr. High remained at St. Bernadette's until 1992 when he was appointed parish priest of St. Margaret's, Montrose.
Father Jim Wallace became the next parish priest in 1992. He will be recalled as a learned, self-effacing parish priest who fostered wonderful devotion to Mary, the Mother of God, having in his life visited nearly every Marian Shrine in Europe and beyond.
Fr. Wallace died suddenly on 26th August 2005.
The celebration of his Requiem Mass in St. Bernadette's was attended by such large numbers that many of the faithful had to listen to Mass outside.
After Father Wallace's passing in 2005, the parish was administered by Father Michael Milton (parish priest at St Mungo's in Alloa) and assisted by Father Martin Pletts. The two priests now served all 3 parishes in Clackmannanshire and St. Serf's High Valleyfield. Fr. Pletts knew the area well having stayed in Tullibody during his time at Stirling University.
His ordination in St. Andrews Cathedral on 24th June 2002 was well attended by parishioners from Tullibody. In 2007 Bishop Logan appointed Fr. Pletts as Administrator of St. Andrews Cathedral, Dundee and parish Priest of St. Joseph's, Dundee. Father Michael Freyne MHM was appointed to replace Fr. Pletts as the assistant to Fr. Milton looking after the 4 parishes.
In 2008 the decision was taken to re-organise the 4 parishes, with Fr. Michael Milton serving St. Mungo's, Alloa and St. Serf's, High Valleyfield and Fr. Mike Freyne serving St. Bernadette's, Tullibody and St. John Vianney's, Alva. These plans took effect in February 2009
Father Michael Freyne MHM is the current Parish Priest. Father Mike was born in Edinburgh and attended the Mill Hill Missionaries Junior Seminary in Lochwinnoch Scotland, later his major Seminary studies took place at Mill Hill Missionaries, Roosendaal, Holland, and were completed at the Missionary Institute, Mill Hill, London. Fr.
Mike was ordained in St. Cuthbert's, Edinburgh in 1977, by Cardinal Grey and celebrated his first mass in his home parish of St. Joseph's Broomhouse, Edinburgh. After a short time in Livingston Fr. Mike arrived in Brazil in 1979 where he had asked to be appointed. He worked there in several parishes until 2007 when he returned to Scotland.
In 2008 he was appointed to Alloa assisting Fr. Milton in the 4 parishes.
In February 2009 he became Parish Priest of St. John Vianney's and St. Bernadette's.
In August 2015 the decision was taken to reorganise the parishes once again.
Fr Brian Mc Lean took over as Parish Priest of St. John Vianney’s in Alva and Fr. Mike remained at St. Bernadette’s and was given additional responsibility as Parish Priest of St James parish in Kinross with Fr. Martin Pletts assisting as Priest in residence at Kinross. In November 2016 Fr. Martin Pletts formally took over as Parish Priest at St. James, Kinross. Since then our parish has shared Fr. Mike with the parish of Callander and Doune for 18 months until the received a new priest
(Father Mike celebrated his 40th anniversary as a priest in June 2017. Fr. Mike's 40th anniversary)
In addition to his duties as Parish Priest at St. Bernadette's Fr. Mike is the Dean of St. Mungo’s Deanery, Diocesan representative for education on the local council, He is also Vicar Episcopal for Mission Awareness and Justice & Peace for the Diocese. Fr. Mike is also a consultor of the Diocese.
St. Bernadette's for the last 12 years has had a very active Parish Council and Parish Financial Council trying to involve as many people as possible in its mission. Other active groups are Catechetics, SVDP, and Fabric & Maintenance. Our Lourdes Group finances youths to go and look after the sick at Lourdes or have a mission experience in a third world country.
We have a very close relationship with our Primary School which recently moved to Tullibody South Campus.Fr. Mike is their chaplain but the school participates as much as they can in the parish liturgies.