Bishop Maurice Taylor RIP

The Bishop Emeritus of Galloway, Maurice Taylor, died peacefully at Dundonald House Care Home, Dundonald, Ayrshire on 14th June 2023.  He was 97 years old and a bishop for 42 years.

Maurice Taylor was born in Hamilton, Lanarkshire, on 5th May 1926, the eldest of four children.  He attended St Cuthbert’s Primary, Burnbank; St Aloysius College, Glasgow and Our Lady’s High School, Motherwell.  He studied philosophy for two years in Blairs College, Aberdeen.  

After Military Service in the Royal Army Medical Corps in India and Egypt, he returned to his ecclesiastical studies in Rome where he was ordained a priest on 2nd July 1950 for the newly established Diocese of Motherwell.

After a year as assistant priest in Saint Bartholomew’s, Coatbridge, he returned to Rome in 1952 where he received his doctorate in theology in 1954.

Another year as assistant priest followed at Saint Bernadette’s, Motherwell, before he was appointed to the staff of Saint Peter’s College, Cardross in August 1955.  He spent the next ten years there, teaching philosophy and, later, theology.

From 1965 to 1974, he was rector of the Royal Scots College, Valladolid.  To mark the bicentenary of the re-establishment of the college in Valladolid in 1771, he published a history entitled ‘The Scots College in Spain’ in 1971 and, the same year, was named Prelate of Honour to the Holy Father.

On his return to Scotland in 1974, he was appointed parish priest of Our Lady of Lourdes, East Kilbride, a position he held until his elevation to bishop.

He was nominated Bishop of Galloway on 4th April 1981 and was ordained by Cardinal Gordon Gray at an open-air Mass in the grounds of Fatima House, Coodham on 9th June 1981, the Feast of St Columba.

With his fluent command of Spanish and initiated by an invitation from the Catholic Institute for International Relations, Bishop Taylor became a regular visitor to Central America, raising awareness of poverty and other suffering experienced by the peoples of Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Costa Rica.  On several occasions, he served for short periods in Central American parishes, an association which he described as one of the most enriching experiences of his life.

For more than ten years Bishop Taylor served on the Episcopal Board of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) and was its chairman from 1997-2002.

Bishop Taylor led numerous pilgrimages to the Holy Land, a place for which he had great affection, showing solidarity and establishing friendships with the people who lived there.

In retirement, Bishop Taylor continued to celebrate Masses and deliver talks throughout the diocese of Galloway and beyond.  He wrote several books on a variety of topics including an autobiography.  Until his death, he was the oldest living Roman Catholic bishop in Great Britain.

Bishop Hugh Gilbert, President of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland, said: “I was saddened to learn of the death of Bishop Emeritus Maurice Taylor and offer heartfelt condolences and the promise of my prayers for the repose of his soul to the clergy and laity of the Diocese of Galloway, whom he served so fondly.”

Archbishop William Nolan said: “As a young priest in East Kilbride, Bishop Maurice Taylor led a very active and vibrant parish, inspired by Vatican II. As a Bishop he had an energy that few could keep up with and as a retired Bishop he was very active in the diocese until recent years supplying for clergy. He managed to find time to write four books, which displayed his sharp mind and keen sense of humour. May his soul rest in peace.”

Bishop Taylor’s vigil reception was held in Saint Margarets Cathedral on 20th June 2023 and his requiem mass was held on 21st June 2023. The order of service and links to the live stream recordings have been made digitally available:

Online Book of Condolence

An online book of condolence is available for you to leave your thoughts, intentions and prayers. These messages will be downloaded and kept in the diocesan archives. If you would like to sign this book you can do this here:

Bishop Taylor’s coat of arms bear the motto Ambula Coram Deo, explaining in his own words: 

The words are scriptural, from the Book of Genesis, and  were the advice given to Abraham when he set out on his journey from his native Ur. The phrase means ‘Walk in the presence of God’,  good advice for Abraham, John Geddes and any believer, including myself. An irreverent friend once translated the phrase for me as: 

You’ll never walk alone

“My faith assures me that God has always been aware of me wherever I have been and wherever I have been going. For that presence, for that constant, loving and unfailing protection and wise guidance I am truly grateful.”

+Maurice Taylor