For some time now I’ve been on Twitter and have quite enjoyed the interaction there. I use it more for news consumption than for anything else. Late last week however, I started getting a lot more mentions than usual. It seems that I’m not the only Michael Duffy around! I already knew of a few other Father Michael Duffys, including the Franciscan that preached at Fr. Mychal Judge’s Funeral.
Via all those new mentions I came to know of another Michael Duffy, this time an Irish Football player (not Soccer as I’ve come to be corrected a few times!). This young man who played for Derry City recently signed with the Glasgow Celtic FC. I must be honest that I’ve never heard of Celtic before, but boy have I now! My Twitter handle (@MichaelDuffy) and the young Michael Duffy’s twitter handle (@MichaelDuffy_) are distinguished by only an underscore. I’ve received hundreds of messages mistaking congratulating me for signing for Celtic. Anyone who knows me knows that I am the farthest thing from a professional athlete.
The BBC picked up on the confusion and called my rectory to interview me about it. I said I would for sure be rooting for Celtic and wished Michael well and prayed for a good future for the young player. I was later told that the story was at one point the most viewed story on the BBC website. Apparently a priest being confused with a footballer is a big story! I’ve since received at least a thousand new followers on Twitter and many messages welcoming me to the Celtic family as their newest fan. People sure do take their football seriously over in Glasgow and Ireland.
Coming full circle, I was informed about the history of Celtic. The football club was actually founded by a Marist brother named Brother Walfrid.From the Celtic Wiki page:
Brother Walfrid is the religious name of Andrew Kerins, a Marist Brother and a founder of Celtic. He was born in Ballymote a village in south County Sligo in north west Ireland to John Kerins and Elizabeth Flynn. He studied teaching and in 1864 joined The Marist Brothers Teaching Congregation.
He moved to Scotland in the 1870’s (making the trip on a coal ship from Ireland) and taught at St. Marys School and the Sacred Heart School where he was appointed headmaster in 1874.
Working in the East End of Glasgow where poverty was highly visible, he set about to try to assist those in need. It was more than just his religious calling. Sadly, the decrepit environment created avenues for certain people to use to their selfish advantage. Soup kitchens could used by unscrupulous groups to entice people into their sects or gangs, and if you are destitute it is quite a choice, even life or death.
This was a threat to the poor Catholic communities who had less resources available to them than their counterparts. Br Walford needed to find ways to avert this crisis, to be able to find a way for his own church in Glasgow to be able to support their own community and find pride in themselves.
However, funds are always needed and positive role models are a necessity to keep up morale and interest, and the setting up of the club needed to be more than just a social club collective of pals (as is the general case for most start up clubs). For the love of the game is all well and good, but pride is built on reputation, honour and success. Br Walfrid wanted to bring these elements together to mirror and better the example set by the original Hibernian side from Edinburgh.
In 1887, he helped to found Celtic as a means of raising funds for the poor and deprived in the east end of Glasgow in Scotland. He was a pivotal person in the community, as Tom Maley stated: “…he only had to knock and it was opened”.
With a history like that, how can one not support such a team!
I may not have the greatest knowledge of Celtic, but I’m happy to be associated with it in a small way now. I’m happy to see it has such Catholic roots, and I hope they continue on.
God gives us so many avenues to evangelize the world, even a case of mistaken identity! Let’s not hesitate to use every chance we can to proclaim Jesus Christ! My Twitter followers a now more football fans than anything else. I’ll be doing my best to make sure they know the difference between Michael Duffy the footballer and Michael Duffy the priest! Praised be Jesus Christ! Oh, and Go Celtic! Hail Hail!