SOLAS - THE UHI CHRISTIAN SOCIETY - ON PILGRIMMAGE TO IONA
"Solas", the UHI Christian Society, started in September 2007 at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig (SMO) on the Isle of Skye with an idea by Kevin MacLaughlin, who is a Catholic and myself, Andreas Wolff, a Lutheran. We are indeed a really oecumenical group! And a Gaelic oecumenical service was the first thing I organised with Father Seumas MacNèill and the Rev. Iain Urchadan, probably the first one on Skye ever. A group came over from Bun-sgoil Shlèite, the Gaelic primary school in Sleat and so there were 35 people present altogether. Father Seumas said he didn't usually like oecumenical services because they were often kept to the smallest common denominator to insure that nobody is offended. Well, I am happy to say that things were different here! The Presbyterians e.g. accepted a cross on the altar and the "credo" and the Catholics were happy with psalm precenting. Even Prof. Tormod MacIllìosa, head of SMO, was with us.
Just before Christmas I organised a pilgrimmage to Iona. We are very thankful for financial support by UHISA and SMO and I also arranged a raffle at a cèilidh to raise some money. We left with the SMO mini-bus on the ferry from Armadal and again from Loch Àlainn across to Mull. After a cup of tea in Tobermory we went on the boat to Iona. We stayed in a very nice youth hostel looking out on a beautiful beach. We attended a Catholic Mass, a Protestant service in the parish church and a service in the old abbey, where the oecumenical "Iona Community" resides now. You meet St. Columba everywhere on the island, the Gael who brought Christianity to Earra-Ghàidheal (=Argyll, meaning the (coast-)land of the Gael) and thus to Scotland. We learned a bit about him and his extraordinary work. At night we also read a bit in a contemporary Gaelic version of John's gospel and had a wee chat on our believes and a glass of wine (see the picture). On our way back we had the opportunity to do a bit of sightseeing on Mull again before sailing across to the mainland at night.
We still come together every Tuesday at 1pm to chat and pray. Sometimes one of us will tell the story of how they were converted, but there is no obligation to do so!
I set up an information box at reception at SMO where Christian information is available and where we'll put up notices on events. The next thing I want to do is to show a film with spiritual relevance.
We call ourselves "Solas" which is the Gaelic for 'light', after John's gospel (8:12), where Jesus says: "I am the light of the world." We stick to Gaelic and would be happy to see folks joining us from other colleges on VC! If you don't feel strong enough in Gaelic yet, you are welcome to switch to English. If an English language branch was set up somewhere we'd be happy to meet with you as well from time to time!
Over all I'd like to see every Christian at UHI taking part in this! I have set up a group on [www. facebook.com]. We welcome your suggestions. Siuthad!