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Sunday, 24 June, 2001, 14:14 GMT 15:14 UK
Celebrating a 'man of the people'
Cardinal Thomas Winning
The Cardinal placed strong emphasis on the community
John Oates of the Catholic Education Commission and childhood friend of Cardinal Thomas Winning, tells BBC News Online Scotland of his standing within the community.

When Pope John Paul II described Tom Winning as "a man of the people" at his elevation to the College of the Cardinals in Rome in 1994, he struck a chord which has resonance with the many tributes and obituaries written about the cardinal in recent days.

This is no surprise to those of us fortunate enough to have known the cardinal and to have worked with him over the years.

Those journalists and political analysts seeking to explain the main influences which shaped the cardinal's life, need look no further than his background.

His main hobby was football. As a student he sometimes joined the boys of the parish in their summer camps in Ireland

John Oates

Born at the start of the Depression into a staunchly Catholic working class family in the village of Craigneuk in the heart of industrial Lanarkshire, Tom Winning from his earliest days enjoyed support of his close family, a large extended family who lived locally and a parish community which provided for his spiritual, educational, social and recreational needs.

My earliest memory of him was when he was head altar boy in the church of St Patrick's Shieldmuir.

He was someone the younger boys respected and admired.

As he made his way through Our Lady's High School, Motherwell, to complete his studies for the priesthood in Rome, the whole parish supported him and felt they owned a share of him.

Throughout his life, the relationship with Craigneuk was one of mutual admiration - Craigneuk was proud of him and he was proud of Craignuek.

Lifelong fan

His main hobby was football. As a student he sometimes joined the boys of the parish in their summer camps in Ireland.

I remember that he played goalkeeper in a match against an Irish team in Skerries, County Dublin.

Although the Scots boys managed to win, the future cardinal would be the first to admit that his football skills were modest - a fact he acknowledged in a recent interview in the Celtic View.

His support for Celtic was legendary and the club has described him as "their most famous supporter".

He tried to find time to attend as many home games as he could, normally accompanied by his nephew Edward McCarron.

Candles burn beside a photo of Cardinal Winning
The cardinal will be missed by many
The flags at Celtic Park have been flown at half-mast during this period of mourning.

Cardinal Winning believed that he was on this earth to serve others. This was obvious in his pastoral work in his archdiocese and in his lifetime of work for Catholic education in Scotland.

His leadership was courageous and inspirational - with actions, not just words. For example, he led the campaign which won the only amendment in the Local Government Bill of 1994, protecting the catchment areas of Catholic schools.

In campaigns like this he led from the front and spoke out for what he believed to be right whether it was popular or not.

For people like myself who worked with him on such campaigns, it was great to know that he was there and he was always there.

No individual has made a greater contribution to the cause of Catholic education in Scotland.

He devoted his life to that cause.

When will we see his likes again? Requiescat In Pace.

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See also:

24 Jun 01 | Scotland
Hope theme for funeral mass
24 Jun 01 | Scotland
Friend leads mourners
24 Jun 01 | Scotland
Tribute to a 'fighter'
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