ONE of Cupar’s best-known figures is preparing to celebrate 40 years in the priesthood.
Canon Pat McInally was ordained at St Andrew’s Cathedral in Dundee on July 8, 1972, and has spent the last 14 years of his career in north east Fife.
He is well known to residents of Cupar as parish priest at St Columba’s Church and through his involvement with numerous local organisations, including Age Concern, the community council, the Rotary Club and the Caring for Cupar charity shop.
Pat (65) was born in Montrose and left home at the age of 12 to attend Blairs College, a junior seminary in Aberdeenshire.
He told the Fife Herald: “From the age of nine or earlier, joining the priesthood was all I wanted to do.
“I spent six years in Aberdeen, then I was transferred to the Scots College in Valladolid, Spain.
“Having completed my Bachelor of Theology degree I was ordained at St Andrew’s.”
Pat’s first appointment was to St Clement’s in Charleston, Dundee, before acting as chaplain to prisoners and young offenders in Perth, as well as pupils at Kilgraston School.
Further transfers took him to St Stephen’s Church in Blairgowrie — a huge parish covering 400 square miles — followed by a sabbatical year in Carlow, Ireland, and then back to Dundee to look after the parishes of Fintry and Whitfield.
Pat recalled: “During my time in Whitfield I set up my own construction company and we built the church hall, which became famous locally because of its innovative octagonal design and turf roof.
“The hall became a focal point for the community and hosted many local activities, church and otherwise.”
After the best part of a decade in Dundee, Pat was asked to move to Cupar in 1998 to take over the duties of the ailing Canon Malaney, who had been in the town for 35 years.
Pat, whose parish also includes St Matthew’s Church in Auchtermuchty, said: “When I came to Cupar from Dundee I initially found it difficult to adjust from the buzz of the big city.
“But I would not want to go back now — I enjoy the country scene, and the people of Cupar are great to know and be around.”
He went on: “There have been lots of highlights over the years, but being invited to be chieftain of the Highland Games three years ago was a great honour.
“We have also been able to develop a tremendous ecumenical spirit in the town, which will hopefully continue for many years to come.
“And the success of Age Concern has been another highlight — it has been great to see care for the elderly flourishing in the way it has.”
To celebrate reaching his milestone, Pat will be hosting a garden party at St Columba’s for 250 invited guests, including 80 family members.
Pat, who was awarded the honorary title of Canon in 2007, concluded: “I wrote an article for parishioners recently outlining my journey through priesthood, and at the end of it I said that if I could live my life over, I would do exactly the same again.
“It has been a great adventure.”