A fond farewell to Father Joe

Parishioners from St Giles and St Agatha's RC Methil churches gather to say goodbye to Father Joe Portelli (picture by Mark Rodgers)

Parishioners from St Giles and St Agatha's RC Methil churches gather to say goodbye to Father Joe Portelli (picture by Mark Rodgers)

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Parishioners from Levenmouth have said goodbye to one of the area’s best-loved church figures.

Father Joe Portelli, parish priest at St Agatha’s in Methil and St Giles, Kennoway, has retired after 14 years in the area, and returned to his native Malta.

He was born in 1949 and seconded to the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh in 1976 but suffered kidney failure soon after his arrival.

He was hospitalised for a lengthy period and it wasn’t until 1981 that, although frail, he commenced full-time priestly duties in Kilsyth.

He served in Edinburgh, Falkirk, Dunbar, Kirkcaldy and Kelso before arriving at St Agatha’s in 2000.

Father Joe was an extraordinarily dedicated priest whose heavy workload allowed little leisure time, said a spokesman, although ornithology and cooking were among his main interests.

“He will be remembered foremost as a priest whose deep spirituality, quiet example and humility transformed and re-energised his parish”, added the spokesman.

His successor is Father Simon Hughes (55), who was ordained 19 years ago and has served in Broxburn, Falkirk, Stirling, and Tranent.

He said he was looking forward to working with young people and doing what he could “to look after the people of the parish”.