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Fr. J. Ryland Whittaker 1961 - 1963

Father Whitaker was born in Edinburgh in September 1896. He took up medicine as his vocation. In 1916 he joined the Army and went to France as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Field Artillery. He was subsequently awarded the military Cross for bravery in the field. After being ordained he worked in Liverpool and then in Glasgow.

When the Bishop of Aberdeen requested the Society of Jesus to consider establishing a permanent mission in Shetland, Fr. Whitaker became the first Priest in Lerwick in 1953.

It was not until the advent of the 1960′s when Father J. Ryland Whitaker was appointed to become the Roman Catholic incumbent of the Stornoway parish, the result of a Jesuit desire to have a formal presence in Stornoway. Fr. Whittaker involved himself in local affairs, especially when moves were started to provide the young people of Stornoway with the facilities which would occupy their interests in their after-school hours. This was provided by the Stornoway youth club in 1945. The club went through a number of ups and downs until it was decided that an Adult Management Committee be set up to get the Youth Club on to a solid footing. Prominent on the committee was Fr. Whitaker, who was also to become a Club leader. Unspoken fears that his “cloth” might deter young people were soon dispelled and he became to be regarded with great affection by all connected with the club. His contribution to the development of the club was huge, and his influence for good on lives of the young members was considerable: the word “religion” was never mentioned. After his move to Edinburgh, his sudden death in 1964, brought fort voluble expressions of great sadness from many, both within and outside the Club in the local community. Fr Whittaker’s work with the Stornoway Youth Club created a general acceptance of the Catholic presence in the town. It was during his term in office that the Catholic community found itself with a building which, from 1961 was to serve ast he R. C. Church for 30 years.



RC Diocese of Argyll and the Isles. Charity registration number - SC002876

Fr William Maclean, 71 Sraid Choinnich, Steornabhagh, HS1 2DS - 71 Kenneth Street, Stornoway, HS1 2DS

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