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09:00 - 24 April 2006

Senior Inverness churchman, Roman Catholic priest Monsignor Robert McDonald, is about to retire from his post of parish priest of St Mary's.

In a tribute read to parishioners, Bishop Peter Moran said: "I feel confident in saying that his pastoral dedication and his gentle courtesy have won him deep appreciation and indeed affection in Inverness and the surrounding area.

"Certainly, on my pastoral visits he has invariably been full of warmth and concern that I should feel entirely welcome.

"Retirement for priests is usually at 75. He has worked on well past that milestone. What is more, he has done so despite considerable discomfort in walking, and two major operations.

"I think this veteran soldier has earned the right to lay down his arms."

"On your behalf I thank him for his many years of service and I hope that the detail of that service can be spelt out and recognised in due course."

Monsignor Robert officially steps down on May 1. He will be succeeded by Father Michael Savage from Tain, Alness and Invergordon.

Father James Bell, currently assistant at St Mary's, Inverness, will move to Tain, Alness and Invergordon as Priest in Charge on May 31.

Polish priest, Father Czeslaw Jozef Kolasa - known affectionately as Father Joe - will become assistant at St Mary's.