The Rise of the Phoenix

Change in all aspects of life is usually inevitable. Day turns to night and vice versa. Sometimes we effect change ourselves and at other times we have no direct control over change. Such has been the transformation of a long-established sodality in the parish, The Women’s Sacred Heart Confraternity, into a more modern raison d’être and, perhaps, a slightly secular sounding title - The Phoenix Club.

When I came to East Kilbride in 1962, the late Kathleen Dunn took me to the Guild, The Women’s Sacred Heart Confraternity, which was held in an outbuilding of the Chapel House in Main Street. It is now Doctor Doig’s house. Activities included Demonstrations and Bingo, as well as invited speakers. Then we moved to the Parochial Hall in Glebe Street.

During Lent we went on Retreat, either at the White Fathers Retreat House, Schoenstatt Convent out near the Campsies and sometimes to the Helpers of the Holy Souls Convent in Langside. At Halloween we had a Social Evening, dressing up for a parade; and at Easter we had another seasonal celebration - an Easter Bonnet Parade! In summer we had our Annual Day Out.

The Women’s Guild was definitely involved at what was once a highlight of St Bride’s social activities - the Garden Fete; in charge of the various stalls, tearoom, or selling raffle tickets throughout the parish. One of our regular social slots was a monthly Social Evening with a Three Piece Band, or a Fish Supper Night. Naturally, the pièce de resistance was a Fashion Show provided by our own members.

Our evenings were usually started by a prayer and occasionally we had a Mass in the Parochial Hall. Now under the banner of our imposing title, The Phoenix Club, we enjoy a much more luxurious event in the Pastoral Centre: a once-a-year Coffee Evening, viz, a Daffodil Tea Night. I know that sounds a bit Irish, so with no disrespect to Sister Sheila’s, or Canon Ryan’s native country, we’ll change that to the use of an oxymoron.

Outwith the purpose of this being a social evening, money is raised for a charity. We, also, extend an ecumenical invitation to ladies from other guilds in the town, notably the South Parish Church. We, in turn, are invited to their Coffee Evenings complete with a Musical Group. Over all, we could use the old French saying: “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”. The more things change the more they stay the same...

Or do they really remain the same?

Mary Agnes McCabe

Addendum: According to the Oxford Dictionary, the word Phoenix comes from an Egyptian Myth. A beautiful bird which lived for 400 or 500 years, then consumed itself by fire, rising renewed from the ashes: a symbol of immortality.

The following lines are taken from a poem, printed in a plaque, which hangs in the lesser hall of the Pastoral Centre. Its theme traces the demolition of the old wooden Parochial Hall (formerly the church) and building of the Pastoral Centre. A relevant quote should, perhaps, endorse the Rising of the Phoenix Club. It is entitled “Donal’s Triumph”.

An’ noo this splendid leisure suite

Has risen phoenix-wise;

An’ maybe like the fortress church

Wull gain a Merit Prize;

But maist o’ a’ it wull revive

Tradition that seemed loast;

An’ hail again oor lang held claim

O’ Kilbride’s worthy host.