BY Peter Diamond | January 4 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


We all have a duty to make the world better, says Scotland’s newest priest

Scotland’s newest priest has revealed he has already ‘felt the closeness of God and the love of His people’ when celebrating his first Mass.

Glasgow Archdiocese received the perfect Christmas present when Fr Andrew McGowan was ordained a priest on December 27 in St Andrew’s Cathedral.

Archbishop Philip Tartaglia of Glasgow ordained Fr McGowan (right, with the archbishop), who is originally from Shettleston.

Bishops Joseph Toal, John Keenan, and William Nolan were also present.

Fr McGowan has been appointed assistant parish priest of St Paul’s Church, Whiteinch where he will assist Mgr Peter Smith.

Fr McGowan, 53, attended junior seminary at Langbank and then Blairs College Aberdeen before entering into seminary at the Scots College in Rome.

However, he left after completing two years of studies and pursed a career in social work, before becoming a driving instructor for 16 years.

“After about 15 years of being a driving instructor I decided that I felt in my heart as though God was calling me to re-enter the seminary and test my vocation again,” Fr McGowan said.

“I spoke with Bishop John Keenan, who at the time was Fr Keenan, vocations director of the Archdiocese of Glasgow.

“I had known Bishop John for a very long time, which meant I was able to speak to him about my personal situation and he then encouraged me to apply for seminary.

“He approached Archbishop Tartaglia on my behalf and got the ball rolling and then I applied for seminary.

“About a year later I was accepted to enter the seminary and was asked to come to the Scots College and resume my studies at the Angelicum University in Rome.”


‘Gift from God’

Following his ordination, Fr McGowan will continue assisting Mgr Smith in St Paul’s, and will serve as chaplain to St Thomas Aquinas’ Primary School, Scotstoun, and St Paul’s Primary School, Whiteinch.

He will also visit the sick at nearby hospitals.

Speaking about his appointment, Fr McGowan said: “It’s a great gift from God. I’m very assured of the prayers and goodwill of the people and I’m delighted to be remaining in St Paul’s in Whiteinch getting to know a lovely community.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity, gift and responsibility to now be able to celebrate Mass and one which I know shouldn’t be taken lightly.

“In the Mass already I feel the closeness of God and the love of His people and that is the best feeling in the world.”


‘Every step of the way’

At 53 years old, some may have found it difficult going back to the grind of examinations but Fr McGowan said he ‘always enjoyed studies and learning.’

He added: “You have to be intelligent enough to take the strain of university life and then use that intelligence to apply yourself.

“Ultimately though if you are called by God He will be there every step of the way with you and you can then use those gifts to evangelise the world.”

When asked if he had to find confidence to go back to a vocational life or if it is never too late to become a priest, Fr McGowan said: “It was God’s choice, in my opinion. He is the God of surprises, and He surprises us in ways we cannot imagine.

“If we reflect on the Christmas story we see the God of surprises everywhere. Whether it be in Mary the Mother of God or in St Joseph, God surprises us and then accompanies us on the journey.

Fr McGowan believes we all have a calling to make the world a better place.

He said: “If someone hears that call don’t dismiss it, God will be there to guide you, God will accompany you.

“Whether it is a call to the priesthood or another vocation we all have a duty to make the world a better, richer place, to fulfill different tasks, and if we seek out Our Lord and Our Lady they can lead us to God.

“I know I wouldn’t be a priest today without God’s grace entering in my life.”

In seeking a vocation Fr McGowan added that people should ‘strive for holiness.’

“The main piece of advice I would give anyone looking for a vocation towards the priesthood is to really strive for holiness and it is by doing that you will find God’s voice within the noise of normal life, he said.

“Speak to your vocations director from your diocese and they will provide bespoke training and guidance that will help you discern your decision.

“There is no one size fits all approach for discerning a vocation but a strong prayer life and following the commandments will help you become a purer person.”


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