TRIBUTES and thanks have been paid to a Harley-Davidson riding priest who has retired after nearly three decades of active ministry.
Father Jim Smith spent the past six years as parish priest at St Martin of Tours, Tranent, and St Gabriel’s, Prestonpans, where he was described as an “incredible leader of people”.
The 62-year-old, who celebrated his birthday on Monday, was “a revolutionary, a thinker and a man of the people”, whose life “has been given in the service of others”.
A post on St Martin’s Facebook page added: “Humility, love and compassion run deep within him.
“His humour, magic tricks, and joy will be greatly missed by his friends at St Martin’s and St Gabriel’s Church.
“We wish him every joy and blessing as he finally gets time to go on holiday, watch the Hibees [Hibernian FC] and spend more time with family and friends.”
Fr Smith, of Prestonpans, is a motorcycle enthusiast who occasionally arrived at Mass on his prized Harley-Davidson.
Stephanie McDonald, headteacher of St Martin’s RC Primary School, Tranent, wished him well in his retirement.
She said: “The community of St Martin’s will miss Fr Smith.
“He demonstrates kindness and a genuine care for the children of the school and they have loved attending Mass.
“Father Smith has taken a real interest in getting our children more involved in the church and the number of altar servers has dramatically increased and love to serve with him at our school Masses and at the weekend.
“The community of St Martin’s will never forget his jokes and tricks that he does so well and we wish him the very best in his retirement.”
During his years as parish priest, Mrs McDonald said Fr Smith had “worked very hard” with the school, adding that he “has done a terrific job in the refurbishment of the church hall to allow the community to use it and get together for fun events”.
Since being ordained at St Ninian’s Parish in Edinburgh in 1989, Fr Smith served in West Lothian and Fife before moving to Our Lady & St Ninian, Bannockburn, in 2010 for two years. He then moved to East Lothian in 2012.
Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews and Edinburgh said: “I would like to thank Father Smith for his 29 years of priestly services to the parishes and people of West Lothian, Fife, Stirlingshire and, most recently, East Lothian.”
In a note to the clergy of the Archdiocese, the archbishop added: “I hope you join me in thanking him and in wishing him a very happy retirement.”
Fr Smith’s retirement sees the Very Rev Monsignor Brian Provost Halloran, parish priest of Our Lady Star of the Sea in North Berwick, become temporary administrator of St Gabriel’s Church, while the Very Rev Basil Clark, parish priest of Our Lady of Loretto & St Michael’s in Musselburgh, will become temporary administrator of St Martin’s Church.