BY Peter Diamond | June 29 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


A journey from Brother to priest: Fr Darren Maslen ordained for Glasgow

Glasgow’s Fr Darren Maslen, PETER DIAMOND finds, had a unique journey to the priesthood

Glasgow Archdiocese gained a shepherd for their flock last Thursday when Fr Darren Maslen was ordained a priest at St Anthony’s Church, Govan. His mother and father Sue and Colin Maslen travelled from their home in England to celebrate the most holy day along with friends and brother priests from the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament.

Archbishop Philp Tartaglia presided over the ordination and welcomed Fr Maslen into Glasgow Archdiocese with over 30 priests attending from Glasgow and as far as Chicago and India.

Fr Maslen made the transition from a Brother of the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament last week but his journey to priesthood started many years ago when he was an Anglican priest in England for 10 years.

47-year-old Fr Maslen said: “I was aware that even though I thoroughly enjoyed my parish ministry, when I looked out of the window to the wider Anglican church I always had a sense that I wasn’t actually supposed to be there.”

However, there were no issues with the Anglican Church that caused Darren to make the shift—he said the process was more pragmatic.

“It was more existential, much more personable, for me I think it was more what kind of person do you want to be,” he said. “I was under the timeframe of Cardinal Newman so I was what you would call an Anglo-Catholic so and most of my education even before I was a priest had been from Catholic schools.

“Apparently I was the first non-Catholic student at Maryvale Institute in Birmingham for example and I had already got a masters in Catholic theology and I was already in their philosophy programme.

“Spiritually I was Catholic, morally I was Catholic, certainly liturgically was very Eucharistic centred.

“So in every way I was a Catholic apart from being one, and you can only go so far in life with that lack of integrity.

“And it took me about five years to put it into words and then to form an impression and then make a decision that this wasn’t going to be my home.

“But I remember God calling me when celebrating the Eucharist one Tuesday lunchtime. I just looked up and said ‘OK. I’ll do it,’ not quite knowing what it was. That was in May and by the December 2009 I was received into full communion.”

Only one week into his new vocation, Fr Maslen says it’s too soon to come to a conclusion about how different the roles are, but the role of priesthood is something he feels comfortable with.

“I was an Anglican priest so the identity of priesthood is something that’s always been there, so it’s as if being a Catholic priest is fitting into a box that’s already being unpacked and now its being packed again—that’s the image,” he said.

“The big thing for me is that for the last five or six years I’ve not actually been in the United Kingdom, all of my formation has been in other countries—the United States, France, India.

“So my big challenge isn’t necessarily about priesthood as such it’s a more a general sense of being rooted in the Catholicity of Scotland.

“We speak about Catholicity but it has its nuances in different parts of the world and different cultures.

“For example, I actively chose out the hymn choices for my ordination because I just don’t know the hymns that you sing—every hymn I would suggest would be Anglican hymns which aren’t kind of known here.”

He added: “I arrived in Govan on December 9 from India where it had been 30 degrees heat to minus four degrees.

“I remember waking up the next day—it was a Sunday—and I put on my habit and realised that I’d left my shoes in India so I was walking around Govan for one day in my flip flops when it was minus four, and getting a few strange looks.”

Fr Maslen said that he is currently writing a thesis, so 90 per cent of his ministry is ‘sat behind a desk with my head in the books as a distance learner in Catholic Theological at the University of Chicago.’

He added: “Hopefully that should be finished by the end of September and then I can have a much more balanced normal life getting to know people.”



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